Case Study: eG Enterprise at St. Charles Health System

st-charles-healthcare-case-studyAs the largest provider of medical care in Central Oregon, with four hospitals and more than 120 medical providers, as well as the region’s largest employer with over 3,800 caregivers in total, St. Charles Health System plays a pivotal role in this burgeoning community.

When St. Charles decided to streamline service delivery for all of its units, the IT team identified the need for real-time visibility into performance across their physical and virtual infrastructure, and selected eG Enterprise as their solution to help ensure top performance for their clinical end-users. Wendy Howard, Infrastructure Engineer with St. Charles, describes the project as a “massive technology overhaul.” The project goals included:

  • Transition from physical desktops to virtual desktops via Citrix XenDesktop
  • Upgrading the Citrix XenApp 4.5 and 6.5 farms to the latest version
  • Adopting Citrix Provisioning Services and Microsoft App-V for images and application virtualization
  • Widespread physical IT expansion and component replacement
Wendy Howard with eG Enterprise on the wall-monitors. “It’s invaluable for us.”

Richard Hussain with Denali Advanced Integration was engaged to advise and manage the project, and together Denali and St. Charles selected eG Enterprise to help ensure quality service and high patient satisfaction through this major IT transformation. Once implemented, they have not looked back.

“eG Enterprise is something we can’t live without. It is a fantastic tool, and it gives me confidence that our systems are running as they should. We have been able to use eG Enterprise to quantify performance improvements in areas that we were struggling with before. And with a few changes we were able to quickly see that we had a 50% improvement in user login times.
– Wendy Howard, Infrastructure Engineer, St. Charles Health System

I like the ability to monitor just about every component you can think of in this entire organization and be able to show it on one single dashboard. It’s just like, wow. It’s really an excellent product.
– Richard Hussain, Solutions Architect, Virtualization, Denali Advanced Integration

Read the case study here:

4 Ideas to Solve the Visibility Gap Between Citrix EdgeSight and VMware vCenter

Val King over at WhiteHat Virtual Technologies just wrote a great blog post about 4 Ideas to Solve the Visibility Gap Between Citrix EdgeSight & VMware vCenter – and we would like to share it with you:

With the Citrix Presentation Server 4.5 End of Life date fast approaching (March 31, 2013,) many customers are engaged in last minute projects to make the leap from Presentation Server 4.5 to XenDesktop 6.5, which now includes Presentation Server, now renamed XenApp.

Most organizations are taking this opportunity to move from physical servers to a virtualized Citrix environment. As an example, one client or ours currently scheduled to make the transition will be moving from 40 physical servers to six VMware hosts will full redundancy.

The projected savings from the electricity and hardware maintenance costs alone make this a significant win for the customer, however with virtualization comes some added complexity.

Adding Another Layer to Manage introduces a visibility gap for IT

For customers that are using Citrix EdgeSight today to manage their Citrix environments today, nothing really changes. You will still get great data on what is happening inside your Citrix environment if you have taken the time learn EdgeSight and customize the templates to make sure you are getting meaningful data in your reports.

What EdgeSight does not do is show you what is happening outside of your Citrix environment. If an end user is experiencing slow performance because a database server in your environment is misbehaving, EdgeSight will not be able to tell you that.

With the addition of a hypervisor layer, in this case VMware, you have access to VMware vCenter Operations Manager to help gauge the health of your VMware environment and see what is happening at the hypervisor layer.

vCenter provides an outside view of the Citrix XenApp servers, but is not able to offer in-depth insight into activities within each virtual machine. VM OS issues, disk partitions within a VM filling up, or a process with a large memory leak are an example.

There simply is no correlation between Citrix EdgeSight and VMware vCenter, so at best information is in separate silos, at worst some problems are invisible to both tools.

So How do you Find and Fix a Problem you Can’t See?

Customers have an expectation that Presentation Server 4.5, XenApp 6, or XenDesktop 6.5 for that matter, will perform as well if not better than a traditional desktop. Add to that the fact that 80%+ of the virtual Citrix environments we deploy are on a VMware hypervisor layer, though the visibility problems are the same for XenServer and Hyper-V, and you realize this is a problem that everyone has that cannot be ignored if we are going to deliver the end user experience that our customers are expecting.

That is the long way to go about saying this was/is a problem we had to find a solution for our business, and to help our customers address this proactively, before they eventually found themselves in this visibility hole.

There are enough challenges that pop up managing an information technology infrastructure, why purposely bake one more visibility problem into the mix?

How do you Virtualize Citrix on any Hypervisor and not Introduce a Management Visibility Gap?

This is the criteria we arrived at for our own business. We needed a management tool that would:

  • Give us full visibility into each VM on a host server.
  • Give us full visibility from the hypervisor layer.
  • Give us full visibility inside the Citrix environment like EdgeSight
  • We would LIKE to get visibility into application performance.

Ideally, the tool would provide full visibility into Active Directory, the network, SQL/Oracle databases, and the SAN infrastructure so any problem that manifests in Citrix could be readily identified at its source.

We had one additional wrinkle in our requirements in that whatever we picked, it would have to help us in our primary mission of helping our customers deliver an exceptional measurable end user experience, be it on customer premise, managed by Whitehat, or in our hosted environment.

We chose eG Innovations for its ability to see across all platforms and layers, with agent/agentless installation in the data center.

To solve this problem and others like it:

  1. Evaluate your management tools. If they were created to managed physical servers but do not have a handle of managing virtual infrastructures, it is time to look for an upgrade. There is a reason they don’t still wear leather helmets in the NFL.
  2. Identify the gaps in your management tools you have in place today and determine ahead of time how you are going to isolate and identify problems that fall into those gaps.
  3. Where possible replace management tools that manage individual silos of data with tools that can see more of the big picture. Consolidating management tools shortens the learning curve, and lets your team spend more time working on a resolution to the problem than trying to remember how to make the tools work.
  4. Look for tools that include some level of automatic root cause diagnosis, so you can reduce the time it takes to find the problem and do not end up wasting cycles trying to solve symptoms.

Good Marketing Does Not Age!

Just back from the Citrix Sales Kickoff meeting in Orlando. eG Innovations was one of 15 vendors invited to exhibit at the event. We had a great turn out at the booth. The big take away from the event for us was that the “Its Not Citrix” marketing campaign we came up with in 2004 still resonates with the audience! Amazing to see how the guy with the bruised face doesnt seem to have aged in the last seven years!

eG Innovations' value proposition for Citrix admins: We help you identify where the real problem is, so you can prove that "Its Not Citrix!"

Of late, we have been seeing a big increase in number of enquiries for Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop monitoring solutions. eG’s relationship with Citrix has a long history. In 2003, we first came out with support for what was then called Citrix Presentation Server. We had so many people asking for support for Citrix that we had to figure out what the market need was. Very early on in that process, we realized that the real pain for Citrix admins is not that they need a whole lot more visibility into the Citrix XenApp (Presentation) server itself but what they really need is end-to-end monitoring. Since users often call the help desk saying that “Citrix is slow” or that “Citrix is not working”, the Citrix admins often get blamed for problems – even the ones that are because of network slowdowns or application issues. It is these problems that the Citrix admins find very difficult to identify and resolve.

Effectively, the Citrix admin is a “business service manager” and not a “silo” manager and what he/she needs is a tool that can analyze the performance of every tier of the infrastructure, correlate across tiers, and help the Citrix admins prove where the real problems are. This is exactly where eG’s Citrix monitoring solution excels.

There were several other smaller players (Premitech, Reflectent, XTS, to name a few) that followed in our footsteps and started looking at this market in 2004-2006, although none of these products provided the business service monitoring capabilities we did for Citrix infrastructures. Citrix’s acquisition of Reflectent and its EdgeSight product in mid 2006 changed the landscape in this space and most of the other players did not survive this change.

Interestingly, over the last year, the market dynamics in this space have changed. Most Citrix customers already own and use EdgeSight for in-depth views into their Citrix XenApp servers. Yet many have come to us looking for a more comprehensive, end-to-end view for monitoring their Citrix-based business services. What they are looking for is not to just prove “Its Not Citrix” but to have the additional level of visibility into the network, the virtualization platform, the applications, and the storage, and to be able to correlate between these tiers to pinpoint where the problem areas are. The business critical nature of Citrix-based services and the obvious need for a simpler to use, more comprehensive monitoring solution make the Citrix marketplace a very lucrative one for us!

Hundreds of enterprises use eG Enterprise to monitor their Citrix infrastructures. Check out our success stories here >>>