May 25, 2016
Squared Up Version 3 - A Citrix Perspective
written by Rob Beekmans
Squared Up version 3, a Tech preview
A few weeks ago I wrote an article on a vendor I noticed was doing some interesting things in the monitoring space. They had a product that would visualise Microsoft SCOM collected data and made it understandable. Suddenly Microsoft SCOM was usable as a product. That vendor and that product was Squared Up.
The article if you are interested is to be found here –link -, After writing the article I got in touch with the again. Citrix Synergy is coming up and Squared Up is there. Citrix will show the management packs they acquired from Comtrade. Not everyone is a fan of Microsoft SCOM so the announcement of the acquisition was not one of cheers in the community. Squared Up wil show that the management packs and Microsoft SCOM together with Squared Up make up a good solution.
They told me they would release a new version with some interesting features. Of course if you say that to a blogger you got ‘m hooked so we setup another meeting and they showed me the goods and well it still amazes me how a good idea turned into a product can make something as crappy as Microsoft SCOM workable and even interesting to work with. They are at Citrix Synergy in Las Vegas right now showing this Tech preview on stand, visit them if you ever had to work with Microsoft SCOM and you hesitate to buy Citrix Platinum licenses to get your hands on the Comtrade acquired Citrix management packs, adding this product makes that investment worth the money.
So let’s take a look at what version 3 is bring us, mind you it’s still a preview so if you are a customer don’t start calling them they will inform you first when the release this version :).
How does it work?
Let’s get back a little bit. I hear you think “how can something make Microsoft SCOM be good? Did you ever see the console and the massive number of alerts we have to work through? And if there is a product for sure we need months of implementation time and load of money” . Does that cover your thoughts at this moment? Right, that’s what I thought so let me start of by telling that implementation is done (without doing anything to Microsoft SCOM).
You install this product on web server in your network and point it to your Microsoft SCOM environment. That Microsoft SCOM environment has a lot of data, an awful lot of data. The guys behind this Squared Up have a background in data visualisation and guess what that’s what they do with the data getting from Microsoft SCOM, they visualise it.
So when you look at implementation time, the longer you got Microsoft SCOM running already the more data there is to visualise and show you. Set it up and start cracking you got some data to visualise. Now Citrix has acquired the management packs from Comtrade and if you add those management packs to Microsoft SCOM you get a lot of Citrix data, stil the console looks bad to work with but the data is valuable for you. By adding Squared Up to visualise this data from the Citrix platinum licensed Microsoft SCOM management packs you get data you can work with. Let me show you this is a simple screenshot.
The Microsoft Visio drawing is made by Citrix lead architect Daniel Feller and you can use it as a layout to visualise your Citrix environment. It’s not a static drawing but you can actually click on the components and dive into them. On the left and right hand side you see alerts, statuses and things like that. All these widgets are configurable so you build your own visualised dashboard for your Citrix environment by using Squared Up and Citrix management packs and Microsoft SCOM.
If you dive into the environment and you want to see how the communication between different components are, you can let Squared Up figure that one out. Mind you this data requires that you have the Citrix Management packs running already, by default Microsoft SCOM can’t monitor Citrix environments. So in the screenshot below you see that the controller is talking to the DC and some client perhaps, that is cool but you can as you see in the screenshot also see the metrics of each component and dive in there if needed. Of course only metrics of components monitored by Microsoft SCOM are available. Squared Up is not a monitoring solution it is a visualisation solution.
So let’s look at some other dashboards and make sure you are ready to visit the booth at Citrix Synergy (no this article is not sponsored, I just like good designed products).
We are the world
Today employees work from different locations and logon to applications or desktops in a central environment somewhere in a datacenter. What Squared Up is offering there is at first a dashboard where you can monitor each application availability but they go further. I don’t have the screenshot for that one (something had to stay under the hood for a bit longer) but they do a simulated logon to the applications from hosted locations around the globe testing if the availability is there. This goes beyond the visualisation or data but with this they enter the monitoring space. Again it’s a preview, I saw the scripts and outcome and it looked promising, go visit them at the booth and see what they do.
The most important component in a Citrix environment next to DHCP, DNS and AD is for certain the SQL environment so let’s look at some of the SQL dashboard they by default offer. In my last article I tried to show the easiness of creating dashboards but that is impossible on paper. please visit them to see the awesomeness of this. I’ve been doing projects with customer where they were looking for a monitoring solution and the measurements I see here are the ones that they were looking for in those projects.
The next thing is the controller, what I think of Citrix monitoring is not a secret. From the console you can see if the components are online and functional, green bullets will show if they are. If the database of a Citrix environment goes down you can’t open the console and therefor can’t see that it is the database giving the error. By using Microsoft SCOM, the Citrix management packs and Squared Up you have visualisation of how the controller and the SQL environment is running.
Below is a screenshot of the SQL database and server dashboard that is being used for the Citrix environment, for a Citrix administrator these dashboards are very very important. Citrix added the management packs to the Platinum license one I would not recommend that easily to customers but with this that might change. If a customer already has Microsoft SCOM and they need to monitor Citrix perhaps adding Platinum with Squared Up will do the job.
There is so much to show and I could go on and post dashboard after dashboard, better is that you go visit their booth at Citrix Synergy or later this year at Microsoft Ignite. If you want to know more, you can attend their webinar on the 9th June - link -