NetScaler Insight – Reporting Overview
If you have not already read part 1 of my article on installing and configuring NetScaler Insight, then I strongly suggest that you read it here:
Also, again just to give a big thank you to Neha Harit at Citrix.
Insight gives both a high level and granular approach to NetScaler statistics, whilst also allowing data to be viewed over various time periods – last 5 minutes, 1 hour, day, week, month and year.
The reporting function is based upon 5 distinct areas:
- Devices – NetScaler VPX/MPX appliances
- Applications – A load balancing/context switching vServer
- URLs – Individual URLs that have been accessed
- Clients – Endpoint devices that have accessed resources
- Servers – backend server providing the resource
Insight makes viewing reporting data easy, any time you execute a report, almost every aspect is turned in to a hyperlink, and these links can be clicked to view further data about the component.
Viewing Device Information
Selecting the “devices” tab allows for a quick overview of how many hits the appliance has received in the given time frame. Remember that in order for a hit to be registered, the request/response must match the AppFlow policy that was configured during the initial setup.
For example, the below screenshot shows an overview of the number of hits that a single appliance received in the last hour:
Selecting the “DEMO-NS01” hyperlink will then provide a fantastically detailed graph, with the key points being the bandwidth used and a timeline that allows analysis of the traffic over a given time period.
Highlighting a particular point on the graph will display accurate point in time statistics:
By default the graphs show the number of hits, however this can be changed to bandwidth (in bytes), this is completed by using the drop down arrow in the top right of the graph (labelled “hits” by default).
When the graph has been changed to bandwidth a detailed analysis of bandwidth consumption will be produced, including the ability to see bandwidth volume for a point in time:
Examining Application Information
Perhaps one of the key parts of understanding a NetScaler deployment is being able to examine traffic relating to load balancing or context switching vServers. Using the “applications” tab within Insight it is possible to see many different reports about a vServer, including the amount of hits, the bandwidth used, URLs requested, which backend server provided access to the resource and information about the clients that requested access to the resource.
In this sample there is a single load balancing vServer named “lbvs-WI”, this is used to provide access to Citrix Web Interface, with a single backend server providing the resource (10.115.26.250). The initial overview displays how many hits a
Viewing the “lbvs-wi” application in further detail it is possible to see some key information in a single pane:
- Which appliance served the content (Devices)
- Which URLs have been requested (URLs)
- The IP addresses of the endpoints that requested the content (Clients)
- Which backend server provided the service (Servers)
Using the breadcrumb navigation (in the top left of the reporting page) it is possible to select further report types, for example HTTP methods, HTTP response codes, endpoint OS and browser types:
Viewing Information about Clients
Insight also captures information regarding the endpoint device that is accessing the data. For example, the amount of requests that the endpoint has made and client latency:
Another great feature is being able to view information about the URLs that have been requested and the number of hits. This is a great way to identify which pages and content are consuming the most resource, also allowing an administrator to determine if further backend resource may be required.
The key points to remember with Insight are that selecting an object within a report will display further information about the object, plus using the drop down box in the top right will allow for quick switching being the time period that the report is showing as well as the metrics that are being displayed, e.g. switching between “hits” and “bandwidth”.
In summary, Insight is a fantastic appliance that gives a massive insight in to any NetScaler deployment. Although NetScaler Dashboard has some basic reporting built in, it is not anywhere near as good as Insight.
All of the other pieces of Insight are incredibly simple as well:
- Support – a TAR archive can be generated and sent to support
- Upgrading – Updated software is uploaded via the GUI and the appliance is updated
- Backup – A copy of the configuration can be saved from the GUI
- SSL – SSL certificates can be used to encrypt data if required
- Auditing – An audit log is maintained and viewable within the GUI
In terms of licensing, Insight is available for all editions of NetScaler. If you have Platinum licenses then there are additional metrics available, for example:
- Application Response Time
- URL load time
- URL Render time
- Client Render Time
- Backend Server Processing Time
- HTTP Response Render Time