Citrix Director is a monitoring tool for XenApp and XenDesktop 7+ that is helpful for both helpdesk users and Citrix administrators alike as it makes for easier support and management of desktop and application services. Citrix Director records user session information, user session failures, machine resource consumption, application statistics, user logon times, trends and much more.
The latest version of Citrix Director is 7.12. When you install Citrix XenApp or XenDesktop a Monitoring database is created. This database is where all Director related information is stored.
What’s new in Citrix Director 7.12:
- User-friendly Connection and Machine failure descriptions – Detailed descriptions of possible failure causes and recommended actions.
- Increased historical data for Enterprise customers – XenApp and XenDesktop Enterprise customers used to receive 7 days worth of historical Director data. This has been increased to 31 days.
- Custom Reporting – Allows you to create new reports and save them previously only possibly using OData queries manually. This is a Platinum license feature.
- SNMP trap integration with Director alerts – Create alerts and trigger actions based on SNMP trap messages.
Director 7.12 System Requirements:
- Windows Server 2012, 2012 R2 & 2016 Standard and Datacenter.
- Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Standard, Enterprise and Datacenter.
- .NET Framework 4.5.2, 4.6 or 4.6.1.
- .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 on Windows Server 2008 R2 only.
- IIS 7 including ASP.NET 2.0 and Static Content sub-feature (installed as part of Director installation).
- A dedicated server(s) hosting Director with 4vCPU minimum and 4GB RAM for every 100 Director user.
Supported browsers for viewing Director:
- IE 11.
- IE10 if viewing from a Windows Server 2012 R2 machine.
- Microsoft Edge.
- Firefox ESR (Extended Support Release). https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/organizations/
Note: The recommended screen resolution for viewing Director is 1366 x 1024.
Install Director 7.12:
It is recommended that you install Director on at least two dedicated machines for high availability. Some Citrix customers install Director alongside Delivery Controllers and this is fine however I prefer to separate all my components.
Launch the downloaded XenApp & XenDesktop 7.12 media and click on Citrix Director. Accept the License Agreement and click Next.
Specify an install location or accept the default. Click Next.
Enter your Delivery Controller FQDN address. Director will discover all available controllers within the Site and will fail over if a Delivery Controller becomes unavailable.
Select if you want to install Windows Remote Assistance or not. This is used for shadowing active Citrix sessions for support purposes and should be left included as it is a great benefit to helpdesk support staff.
Click Next. TCP 80 and 443 are opened automatically in Windows Firewall.
Director is installing.
Click Finish. Director will launch but connect by default over HTTP. We ideally want to secure communications using HTTPS.
Generate a certificate that matches the Director FQDN. This will usually be a load balanced address if you use NetScaler. Open IIS on each Director server, add the HTTPS binding to Default Web Site and select the correct certificate.
Now you will be able to connect to Director over HTTPS. Ensure you do not get any certificate warnings or erorrs. The domain field can be prefilled and made non-editable, to see how to do this read http://www.jgspiers.com/tweaking-citrix-directory-dash-of-monitoring/
This completes the install of Citrix Director. The rest of this blog post will be around configuring Director post-install and using Citrix Director to monitor and troubleshoot your environment.
Director real-time monitoring
There is a lot of information gathered in real-time that Director feeds through to the console that will help an administrator identify issues within a Citrix Site. This information assists with troubleshooting connection failures, troubleshooting machine failures, investigate/troubleshooting active session issues and so on.
On the main dashboard pane you have several sections each with data for different parts of your Citrix farm. Towards the bottom you have the status of each hosting connection configured within your site under Infrastructure. You can configure thresholds which trigger alerts such as for high CPU usage on the hosts. This displays an alert in Director. More information here http://www.jgspiers.com/tweaking-citrix-directory-dash-of-monitoring/
To the right of Infrastructure is the status of each Delivery Controller in your site. This section tells you if each Delivery Controller in your site can contact the License Server, Monitoring Database, Configuration Logging Database and that there are no service alerts etc.
If a Delivery Controller loses contact with the License Server for example Director displays a red alert such as below. If you hover over the Not Connected text it will give you some more information on what is wrong.
An alerts displays towards the top of the dashboard pane which explains what is currently at fault. In this instance, the License Service or Vender Deamon is down with recommended remediation steps.
Director shows alerts when machines fail or users fail to connect to a session on the main Dashboard page. As you can see below, 2 connection failures were recorded over the last hour. You can click the orange text to find out more information.Two user connection failures occured for my own account. The failure reason is recorded as Registration Timeout. Failure reasons have been made more “user friendly” and informative in Citrix Director 7.12.
If you click on the failure reason blue text, you get some more information and some recommended actions to resolve the connection failure. This is new to Director 7.12.Another example connection failure reason.
The troubleshooting information note possible causes.Some recommended actions are also supplied.Like user connection failures, if a VDA fails for any reason the Dashboard screen shows an alert. Click the orange text to get a view of which actual VDA has failed.In this instance a VDA has failed due to Contact Lost. Click the blue text for more information.The issue reports that the VDA lost connection with the Delivery Controller.Some recommended actions such as restarting the Citrix Desktop Service is given.
Asides from alerts, Director shows how many active sessions there are and the average logon duration over the past hour.
If you click on the blue Sessions Connected text you can find out who exactly is actively logged on. Some useful information such as username, endpoint IP, Citrix Receiver version and so on are recorded. If you click a username you can see more user specific session information.
After clicking on an active user Director shows you a lot more user specific information and allows you to perform some management of that session. Notice you can log the user off, shadow and see which applications and processes are running. You can also reset the user profile if Citrix Profile Management is in use.
Having a closer look at the running applications we can see that Internet Explorer is running. If a user had reported that Internet Explorer had frozen and they couldn’t close it, you could come in here to select the application and then select End Application. This will end that Internet Explorer application for the affected user only.
You can drill in to the processes by clicking on the Processes tab. This allows you to see what processes are running and end processes. You can also sort processes by CPU and Memory usage so that if a user reports a sluggish session you may find a certain process is consuming too much resource and end that process.
To the top left of the screen you can see which user you currently viewing the session of. If you click the username, you see information such as phone numbers and locations. This could be helpful when troubleshooting for when you need the users location or contact number.
As mentioned before you can log the user off, shadow them or reset their profile and personal vDisk.
Click the Details button to the right of the screen.
The Activity Manager section shows the same processed we viewed on the actual Activity Manager pane. Here again you can view processes, applications and manage them.
The middle section shows Machine Details, that is, the VDA specific details. Here you can see the VDA name, Machine Catalog, VDA IP address, VDA version, Memory, CPU, current load and much more. Very useful information. You can also put the machine in Maintenance Mode by clicking Maintenance mode. If your VDAs are power managed the Power Control button is available. If you are running XenDesktop VDI desktops you can use the Manage Users button which allows you to unnasign or assign users to and from persistent desktops.
Power Control lets you restart, shutdown, suspend machines including the option to force these actions. If a machine was powered off you could power it on from here.
To the right of the Details view the Session Details portion allows you to see some user specific information such as Session State, endpoint name and IP, Receiver version, ICA RTT (screen lag) times and latency. You also have tabs for which Citrix policies are applying to the session and if any SmartAccess filters or hosted applications are configured.
Session Control allows you to disconnect or log off a user.
The Send Message button allows you to send a message to a user.
Type a message and click Send.
The message appears to that user only.
Towards the bottom of the Details view you can view the logon time for that user. This also shows a graph containing how long it took portions of the logon to process for example login scripts and brokering. You also get a comparison between this logon and logons for that same user for the past seven days or logon averages for the Delivery Group. If you are experiencing slow logons, compare the logons to previous acceptable times. Also investigate what portion of the logon process if at fault for example GPO or Login Script processing. Think about what has changed such as new application installs or Group Policy changes, or even how large the users profile is as these can all affect logon times. See http://www.jgspiers.com/digging-in-to-citrix-logon-process/
Underneath Personlization data relating to the users profile and personal vDisk display here. I do not have either Citrix Profile Management, Roaming Profiles or personal vDisks configured. If you did, you could see profile type, version, profile size and paths etc. with the options to reset them.
Under the HDX portion you can see which HDX virtual channels are in use and what resource usage they are consuming. For example, the Graphics Thinwire channel is currently running at 9FPS. The printing channel has 2 mapped printers and the channel is currently idle. You can click on virtual channels to get more information.
Using Director you can search for a user. Just click the Search button and start typing a username. Once the username is found click it and you’ll be given session information based on if the user is connected or not.
You can also search Machines (VDA) by changing the Search for parameter to Machine. Start typing a VDA name and then select the VDA.
From here you get Machine Details seen before in the Details section of a users session. You can also Power Control and place and VDA in maintenance mode etc.
You also get a report under Machine Utilization showing the CPU and Memory usage within the last minute. The number of sessions currently active or disconnected on the VDA are also shown.
The Hotfixes pane below will report any Citrix hotfixes that have been installed on the VDA.
If you click the View Historical Utilization button underneath Machine Utilization you can get historical machine consumtpion information. This is new to Director 7.11.
Changing the time period is possible from 2 hours to 24 hours, 7 days, one month or the past year.
The historical machine utilization shows memory, CPU and session data. This can be useful for comparing the resource consumption and usage of a VDA a month ago vs. now to see how much more machines are being used for example.
Click the Export button.
You can export the utilization report.
You can export to PDF, CSV or Excel format.
The report will generate than download to your machine.
Here you can see a sample utilization report.The top 10 processes on a VDA are also tracked and recorded within Director if you have process monitoring enabled. If you look at a machine’s historical resource utilization towards the bottom is the Top 10 Processes section. Notice it is disabled as you must enabled the policy.Set Enable process monitoring to Allowed. Process information will start to gather. You can click any of the top 10 processes to view historical memory and CPU consumption. Note: If you do not wish to track process information or CPU/memory resource consumption then turn off these policies as it will eliminate unnecessary processing and resource consumption.
Note: CPU and Memory statistics are received by the monitoring database every 5 minutes. Process statistics are received by the monitoring database every 10 minutes.
Director trends and historical data
The Trends section of Director is generally used for historical lookups on sessions, session failures, machine failures, log on times and so on. You can see these types of data over periods of time which is helpful for comparing data now versus historically. By default trend data is available for 365 days when you have a Platinum license, 31 days for Enterprise and 7 days for Standard licenses. You can also export historical data and create custom reports. Custom reporting is new in Director 7.12 for Platinum customers.
The Sessions tab displays currently running, disconnected and historical sessions from the past 2 hours, 24 hours, 7 days, 1 month or year. Again how far you can go back depends on the Director version and the XenApp/XenDesktop license you have. You can see session start and end times, session duration, peak connected sessions and so on.
The below shows the time periods you can pick to view sessions.
If using Director on an Enterprise license and a version lower than 7.12, you can only go as far back as 7 days.
You can use the export button to create a report.
The report can be exported as a PDF, Excel or CSV file.
Here’s an example of a report generated from the sessions tab.
By default the CSV, Excel and CSV formatted reports all have a soft limit on how many records/rows can be exported from Director/SQL. This is to ensure system performance is not negatively affected during an export. The limits can be changed using IIS. The default limits are:
- PDF – 500 records supported.
- Excel – 100,000 records supported.
- CSV 100,000 records supported. 10,000,000 records supported from Sessions tab.
There are a maximum number of supported records as defined by Citrix:
- PDF – 5000 records supported.
- Excel – 100,000 records supported.
- CSV – 100,000 records supported.
Note: Setting a number higher than the maximum number defined by Citrix is not supported and can have adverse affects on performance of the Director server, SQL and Delivery Controllers during an export.
The Failures tab shows failed connections, failed desktop OS machines and failed server OS machines that occured over different time periods. Here you can see a couple of user connection failures, including the reasons and times, during the past 24 hours.
You can filter machine type to show only connected failures on server OS or desktop OS machines.
You can filter the results by failure type such as Client Connection Failures.
And you can filter by Delivery Group.
Here you can see I have filtered the results both by failure reason and the Delivery Group.
If you switch to the Desktop OS Machines panel you can see which VDA machines running desktop OS over the past 24 hours. The Desktop OS Machines panel shows the same.
The Logon Performance tab shows logon performance, including logon times and usernames over specific periods of time. If you are experiencing slow logons, compare the logons to previous acceptable times. Also investigate what portion of the logon process if at fault for example GPO or Login Script processing. Think about what has changed such as new application installs or Group Policy changes, or even how large the users profile is as these can all affect logon times. See http://www.jgspiers.com/digging-in-to-citrix-logon-process/
The Load Evaluator Index tab shows the Load Evaluator Index of all XenApp/Session Host machines within the Citrix site or machines within specific Delivery Groups. This metric helps you identify how much load are being placed on machines by sessions. Load is calculated by CPU, disk, memory usage and session count.
You can sort the graph by CPU, memory, disk and so on.
The Capacity Management tab shows application usage, desktop and server OS usage. Here you can see the amount of sessions including concurrent count for each application.
If you click on the Single application radio box you can search for specific applications to view usage count.
The Server OS Usage pane shows server OS usage. You can drill down to specific Delivery Groups or machines.The Desktop OS Usage pane shows similar data for desktops.
The Machine Usage tab shows desktop and server usage including how many VDAs are available, unavailable, unregistered or preparing.
The Server OS Machines pane shows two server OS VDAs currently being used.
On the Resource Utilization tab you are given CPU, Memory and concurrent session statistics for desktop and server OS machines.
Custom reporting (new to 7.12 for Platinum customers) allows you to create an array of custom reports without having to build OData queries like you would have had to do with previous Director versions. On the Custom Reports tab, click Create Reports.
Underneath Custom Query you have a mixture of different variables you can use to create a report based on the information you need. In this example, I want to get a list of connections within the last 24 hours including VDA version, Receiver version, launch time etc. When you have designed the report the way you like you can preview the report before executing it.
Click the Preview button.
Preview is great as it allows you to continue editing the custom report until you get exactly the information you need.
Click Export to export the report to CSV.
You can also save the report, and it now displays under the Custom Reports tab. Any time you want to run the report simply click Execute.
Director informs you that the report is being generated.
When the report generates you can open it using Excel and view the data.
The Network tab is used for XenApp/XenDesktop Platinum customers who want to integrate AppFlow from NetScaler using NetScaler MAS within Director. To integrate MAS with Director see See http://www.jgspiers.com/citrix-netscaler-management-analytics-system/#Director-Integration
Citrix Director Filters
The Filters button allows you to quickly get a view of filtered data such as failed VDA machines due to the machines being unregistered, stuck on boot and so on.
You can filter by sessions.
You can also filter by failed connections, or all connections.
If you had clicked to filter all failed connections, that’s the information you get. Notice there are filter drop-downs allowing you to customise and further filter the data.
For this example I want to see failed connections against VDA 7.11 machines. You can save the filter and it will show up under the Filters button. This easily allows you to get the analytics you need on demand.
The Alerts button is new to Director 7.7+ and allows you to receive alerts including email alerts based on configured thresholds and rules. To create an alert click on Citrix Alerts Policy. You can create alerts for the Site, Delivery Groups, Servers or Users. Under Site Policy click Create.
Enter a name and description. All the available conditions are displayed such as Average Logon Duration, Memory, CPU. For this example, I’ll create an alert that flags a warning when one user connection fails and an error when two fails within 60 minutes.
The alert shows as below and can be edited, disabled or deleted.
Now when 1 connection failure occurs, the warning alert flags within Director. You can configure email alerts for these conditions also. The alerts show both on the main Director Dashboard and within Alerts -> Citrix Alerts. Click on the start symbol.
You can get a view of the history of this alert, this may help you identify any patterns or consistency.
The Delivery Group alert policies contain some different conditions such as Load Evaluator Index. To assign this policy against a Delivery Group click the Assign button. Delivery Groups can contain desktop OS or server OS.
Select any number of Delivery Groups and click Done.
The User Policy alerts allow you to assign alerts against specific users. You use the search box below to search for and add users in Active Directory.
The Email Server Configuration tab is where you configure your SMTP server details so that you can be emailed when alerts are generated.
Integrate Director with NetScaler MAS
NetScaler MAS is used to collect HDX Insight from remote WAN connections coming in through NetScaler Gateway. If you are a Citrix XenApp or XenDesktop Platinum license customer you can integrate this data in to Director to view all HDX related data from the one single console.
To configure and unconfigure NetScaler MAS with Citrix Director see http://www.jgspiers.com/citrix-netscaler-management-analytics-system/#Director-Integration
Permissions and access to Director is controlled through Citrix Studio. Generally, you will use the built-in roles within Studio such as the Help Desk Administrators role however you can create your own customised roles aswell. To create a custom role simply navigate to Citrix Studio -> Configuration -> Administrators -> Roles -> Create Roles. Now pick any action under the Director grouping. You can then configure administrators with this new role scoped against certain Delivery Groups or Machine Catalogs etc. This ensures they only have control over what their accounts are scoped against.Note: You must grant custom role users the right to log on to Director and the right to view Delivery Group data. These permissions are found outside of the Director grouping. You can use other already made roles as a template, copying their permissions in to your new role.
Director across forests
Director multi-site monitoring
Director has the ability to monitor multiple XenApp and XenDesktop sites that are reachable. To add multiple sites perform the following:
- On the Director sever open IIS.
- Navigate to Default Web Site -> Director -> Application Settings.
- Edit field Service.AutoDiscoveryAddresses and insert Delivery Controller FQDN’s from each site you want Director to monitor.
- Restart IIS using command iisreset /noforce
Note: You can also use the Director Config tool running a command such as DirectorConfig /ddc “site1.jgspiers.com, site2.jgspiers.com”
Director integration, monitoring and alerting with SCOM
Director data retention settings and granularity
By default 90 days worth of data is collected before being groomed from the database for customers who have a Platinum license. Use the Set-MonitorConfiguration to change these defaults.
Raw data i.e. session and connection information (non historical) that is live and current has it’s own grooming setting. Grooming makes sure that only the relevant data is kept historically to ensure performance standards are met and the database doesn’t grow out of control because current data grows fast. Enterprise customer data is groomed after 31 days. Standard customer data is groomed after 7 days.
The granularity of data you see is based on the range of time you select. For example, if you view 2 hours worth of connection failures you receive data that has granularity of 2 minutes. 24 hours of data uses 2 hours worth of granularity. 7 days uses 2 hours, 1 month uses 1 day, 1 year uses 1 week.
Disable visibility of applications within Activity Manager
Any Citrix administrator who has access to the Activity Manager section in Director can see a list of running applications within a users session as shown below. Any member of the built-in Full Administrator, Help Desk Administrator and Delivery Group Administrator roles can access Activity Manager when using Director.To disable this edit the TaskManagerDataDisplayed DWORD key from value 1 to value 0. This key is located in HKLM\Software\Citrix\Director\.
Within the Director server open IIS and navigate to Default Web Site -> Director -> Application Settings.
Modify entry UI.TaskManager.EnableApplications with a value of false.Additional Notes:
Machine and user connnection failure reasons noted here https://docs.citrix.com/content/dam/docs/en-us/xenapp-xendesktop/7-12/downloads/Director-7.12-Failure-Reasons-Troubleshooting-Guide.pdf