Terminal Server Monitoring

At RDPSoft, we have the pleasure of talking to many different folks from organizations around the globe about the challenges they face while managing Terminal Server and Citrix XenApp farms.  One thing we’ve noticed from those conversations is how the concept of Terminal Server Monitoring means many different things to many different people, depending on the industry they work in.  The purpose of this post is to flesh out the two most common things that individuals want Terminal Server Monitoring software to do on their networks.

Question – How can I monitor Terminal Server User Session Activity?

Answer – Broadly speaking, monitoring Terminal Server User Session Activity falls into two different sub-categories.  The first category is monitoring Terminal Server logons, logoffs, idle session time, and programs run inside sessions.  We like to call this sort of remote desktop user activity monitoring “soft auditing.” This is the core type of agentless, user session monitoring that our Remote Desktop Commander Suite performs.  We continually poll user session information from Remote Desktop Session Hosts and Citrix XenApp servers into a central database.  By doing so, our software can evaluate the changes that take place over time in any given user session, and build comprehensive reports that show how long users are connected, how productive (e.g. their ratio of idle time to active time) they are in certain periods of time (e.g. by hour or by day), and the programs they run inside their sessions. A terminal server monitor configured as described above is a great way to make sure that teleworkers are honoring the remote work agreements and policies established by management.

The second RDS monitoring category is often referred to as Terminal Server session recording.  Session recording is a more “intense” form of monitoring than the first category.  Session recording essentially captures the on-screen activity of one or more users on a Remote Desktop Session Host, for review and playback later. Some RDP session recording applications, like our Remote Desktop Commander Suite, capture more than just session screenshots, and can show CPU/memory usage by user over discrete time periods, as well as the network connections they establish.  While not necessary or desired by every industry, certain highly regulated industries (e.g. like finance, areas of the government) require this heightened level of monitoring for legal and compliance purposes.  One challenge inherent to this category is that it is much more resource intensive than the former;  users typically run agent processes in their sessions and the amount of screen data captured over time can be rather voluminous.

Question – How can I monitor Terminal Server Performance?

Answer – In addition to user session activity monitoring, network administrators often want to know about performance issues that could be sneaking up on them, and ultimately affecting user experience on one or more of their servers.  Typically, this area falls into two different sub-categories as well.  Preventative Terminal Server Performance Monitoring, and Post-Mortem Performance Monitoring.  The most effective type of Performance Monitoring uses both of these sub-categories in conjunction with one another.

Preventative Performance Monitoring typically entails looking at daily or weekly trends on your Remote Desktop Session Host Servers.  For instance, our Remote Desktop Commander solution can build daily, weekly, or monthly reports regarding items like Max Concurrent Sessions, Peak Active and Disconnected Sessions, Currently Disconnected Sessions, Most Contrained Load Factor (e.g. CPU or Memory), etc, CPU/Memory Usage Statistics by Session, RDP Bandwidth Usage by User, and RDP Latency by User Session and/or By Server.  Spotting trends early is the key to this form of monitoring.

Post-Mortem Performance Monitoring involves investigating WHY a Terminal Server became unresponsive or sluggish AFTER the fact.  In a scenario like this, it is critical to have a “drill down” capability to diagnose the problem. We provide this capability in Remote Desktop Commander by providing dashboards that show all user sessions that were running on a server in a the time window just before a Terminal Server had an issue, as well as how much memory and CPU each session was using around that time. Such dashboards make it easy to find the “problem sessions” that were using too much memory or CPU. From there, leveraging the detailed session performance data collected by the Remote Desktop Reporter Agent, an administrator can pull up the full historical performance record of the problem session to see exactly which programs in the session were the root cause.  By sifting through this rich historical data, an admin can hopefully put new policies into affect or increase capacity in the farm to prevent the incident from happening in the future.

Get Both Kinds of Terminal Server Monitoring – For Only $9 Per Terminal Server Per Month

Our Remote Desktop Commander Suite software continually gathers the live session state data from all of your Citrix and Remote Desktop Servers on a recurring basis (e.g. whether or not a user is idle, how long they’ve been idle, how many resources they’ve consumed (CPU/Memory/Bandwidth), the quality of their connection (RDP latency), etc), and stores that data into a central SQL database. By doing so, we are able to generate dozens of reports and dashboards that show you exactly what users were doing in their sessions, their individual performance impact on the servers, and so much more.

Even with the tremendously powerful feature set described above, you can implement this monitoring for only $9 per terminal server per month. So, please review our sample reports, demonstration videos, and feature listing now. Then, consider starting your subscription with us. With a 30-day money back guarantee and free initial support, you have absolutely nothing to lose.

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