XTS ATM: Citrix Reporting with BI Smarts

Beyond monitoring, XTS provides bottom-line boosting insight into Citrix environments.

A Citrix rollout is a tempting proposition. When well implemented, IT staffers can sidestep the complex, time consuming and tedious nature of managing and maintaining applications on a desktop-by-desktop basis.

Yet, Citrix poses challenges of its own.

Eric Spiegel, CEO and founder of Washington, DC area XTS, noticed that the hurdles come early for many of his customers as they grow their Citrix server farms. A main reason why they turn to XTS is to answer basic concerns like "capacity planning, figuring out how many servers they need, and what application schema they need on the box," explains Spiegel.

That's where the company's Access Tracking Manager (ATM) software comes in.

Sitting on a Windows server (2000, 2003, or XP - 2 GB RAM recommended), ATM grabs data from Citrix's own Resource Manager summary database (MetaFrame XPe and Presentation Server Enterprise Edition). The benefits of this setup are obvious. Since there are no agents to install and get chatty with a central server, there's is no additional strain placed on the network that already has its hands full serving up applications.

But Citrix monitoring is not the name of the game. For XTS it's all about visibility and insight.

Borrowing from business intelligence methodologies (OLAP, specifically), ATM's strength comes from running that data through its analytical engine and translating it into metrics that both CIOs and non-techie execs can understand, and in turn, use to better manage the platform. For instance, tracking server usage to head off an imminent, otherwise unexpected upgrade.

In this way, ATM lends historical context to a wide variety of statistics, including all-important application and server usage trends via a graphically rich dashboard. This helps managers better plan for capacity upgrades and keep hardware expenditures in check with plain-as-day data in hand (or on screen). This visibility also helps control licensing costs, for both Citrix and hosted software.

This alone has great savings potential, according to a Spiegel. It helps reinforce a concept that often eludes IT shops, "aligning usage with licensing." For managed service providers, ATM can demonstrate that they are operating within SLA thresholds and help avoid a dip into potentially costly territory.

And while economics plays a role, ATM also addresses savings of another sort, namely time. And effort too, to be fair.

Investing heavily in the idea of automation, XTS developed its software to reduce the manual aspects of Citrix reporting. With a few clicks, an administrator can generate custom reports with no coding to speak of, and export them to Excel, HTML, PDF, or XML.

A built-in integrated scheduler can generate and mail reports at predetermined times. Built-in Active Directory support, besides enabling comprehensive user and group reporting, also scales to massive levels. XTS reports that one company is using its product on a 60,000-user environment.

ATM also lends an extra little level of efficiency by allowing admins to purge the Resource Manager summary database and have ATM store the historical data instead.

So what does the future hold for XTS?

Spiegel says that in addition to expanding the possibilities by getting his technology to pull "data from any data source," his firm is eyeing an equally (if not more) tantalizing technology: virtualization.

XTS Access Tracking Manager starts at $495. Pricing follows a per-Citrix server licensing model. A 15-day free trial (registration required) is available.

This article was first published on EnterpriseITPlanet.com.






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