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While many Fortune 500 organizations have brought the customer experience (CX) to a boardroom level, a staggering 55% of current businesses fail to utilize user experience testing. Even among those Fortune 500 companies, many of their CX testing solutions happen in soloed environments. It's relatively easy to run a synthetic monitoring solution on an in-house application. But what about all of those Citrix virtual servers that 99% of Fortune 500 companies (and over 400,000 other organizations) use to create holistic applications?

Recently, Simon Trilsbach — Managing Director at 2 Steps, Andy Bearsley — IT Operations Analytics Specialist at Splunk, and Andrew Newlands — Head of Product Development at 2 Steps, sat down with Anil Kumar — Technology Marketing Manager at Citrix — for a webinar detailing 2 Steps value as an agentless monitoring solution in Citrix environments.

Today, we're going to talk about some of the points dragged up during the webinar for those of you who missed it. We'll touch on the value of 2 Step's Citrix Ready Application, and how 2 Step's agent-less synthetic monitoring solution can help you proactively monitor Citrix virtual app and desktop environments, as well as some of the ways that 2 Steps integrated with Splunk to deliver all of those rich monitoring metrics directly into your Splunk dashboard for holistic data analysis.

Let's jump in!

What is Citrix Ready?

Before we dive into the juicy details, let's take a moment to understand Citrix Ready and why it's important that 2 Steps is a feature on the Citrix Ready Marketplace. Most of us use Citrix server, application, and/or desktop virtualization at some level in our organization. You may have micro-apps in the Citrix space, or you may use Citrix to power the bulk of your stack. Either way, finding solutions that naturally integrate into Citrix can be tricky.

For example, if we look at the synthetic monitoring ecosystem, the vast majority of Selenium-based monitoring apps don't fully integrate with Citrix. They may be able to monitor the log-on process or launch, but once you're in the virtual desktop, those Selenium monitoring apps become useless.

So how do you find solutions that integrate naturally with Citrix? You use the Citrix Ready Marketplace!

The Citrix Ready Marketplace is filled with 3rd party apps that have been put through a verification gauntlet to prove interoperability with Citrix environments. In other words, the Citrix Ready Marketplace is the de-facto place to find apps that seamlessly integrate with Citrix. All of the apps and tools in the marketplace have been verified using the rigorous Citrix Ready verification methodology.

What is Splunk?

For most IT and system developers, Splunk needs no introduction. With the wealth of machine learning capabilities in the development space, finding ways to process all of that data coming in from multiple systems can be a headache. Splunk acts as a single window of truth that analyzes and gathers all of that rich ML data from your systems.

One of the core draws of Splunk is that data is coming in from every system. It breaks down siloes by helping you understand all of your data in one environment. At 2 Steps, we see Splunk as a core function of the modern SDLC. You need a way to process all of that data in real-time in a single pane, and Splunk is the best solution on the market for making this happen at scale.

What is 2 Steps (From a Citrix-centric Perspective)?

For the average business, user experience is the glue that holds your company together. 84% of customers feel that their experience is as valuable as the actual service or product being provided, and the business economy loses around $1.6 trillion due to poor experiences annually. In fact, a significant component of the average developers' job is improving the CX of their business's apps. But did you know that that same developer is wasting an average of 50% of their time fixing issues that could have been avoided with the right customer experience monitoring tool?

At 2 Steps, we believe in getting two steps ahead of a problem. For us, that problem is CX. IT and service delivery professionals have a challenging occupation. Between the ever-demanding balancing act of DevOps, Agile, and SCRUM, finding ways to simplify launches is top-of-mind for busy developers. Shift left automation, and user monitoring can save time, money, and plenty of headaches for devs looking to hack their launchpad.

2 Steps is an agentless monitoring solution that automates customer experience testing for a variety of environments. With easy-to-use Splunk integration, video feedback, and Citrix-ready workflows, 2 Steps helps provide value across four primary layers.

  1. Speed: 2 Steps is a plug-and-play agentless monitoring solution. There's no coding involved. You don't have to embed any agents. And there's no API hooking involved in getting 2 Steps up-and-running in your Citrix environment. This means faster implementation that supports rapid, shift-left DevOps practices.
  2. Intelligence: Using computer vision techniques and machine learning to generate actionable CX insights is hyper-valuable to the average organization. But being able to plug that data into Splunk lets you leverage your CX against your core infrastructure data to make dynamic changes that go far beyond surface-level scratches.
  3. Safety: You want to get ahead of customer experience issues. 67% of customers say that they expert better experiences than they did a year ago, and 66% of customers are willing to pay more for those incredible digital experiences. 2 Steps makes it easy with best-in-class monitoring that works seamlessly in virtual environments.
  4. Ease-of-use: Getting stakeholder buy-in on CX issues can be tough. 2 Steps makes it easy. Not only do we feed rich ML data to your Splunk dashboard, but we provide videos of UX issues to help communicate problems without all of the confusing graphs and data points.

2 Steps is a novel solution in the way we approach agentless monitoring. But our core legacy IPs have been around for years. Our Selenium approach is mature, but we've redefined our solution to be useful outside of Chrome-based environments. Our solution allows us to enable automated workflows in virtualized Citrix apps and desktops, providing unique value to clients who need best-in-class agentless monitoring and CX resolution solutions in Citrix environments. With 2 Steps, you can stay in-front of customer experience issues, eventually leading to a shift in culture that embraces predictive resolutions.

How to Embrace A Holistic and Predictive CX Ecosystem

The aim of customer experience monitoring is to better understand the performance of your mission-critical apps when users are performing business actions. These actions come in a variety of shapes-and-sizes, but understanding the core experience contained in each action (regardless of its type) is a crucial component of understanding how well your entire app is performing.

But merely having CX data doesn't lead to actionable, sustainable performance changes. You need the input metrics from your infrastructure components. Having either one or the other creates a fracture in resolution implementation. With only UX data, you don't see where the issue is stemming from exactly. You have to go and do investigating, which can take time and resources. With only infrastructure data, you won't be able to tell how severe the issue is to your overall user experience.

Let's say that you're responsible for a bunch of remote sites. When customers start calling with issues, how do you know how severe the issue is and where it's coming from? Is it coming from your app? Is it the Citrix environment? Is it only at one site? Is it in all sites? Is it in a small cluster of sites?

By combining infrastructure data with agentless monitoring data, you can discover precisely what's causing issues. And, with the right real-time ML data processor (i.e., Splunk), you can create a predictive culture. Typically, this happens in two stages:

  1. Moving to a proactive posture: To create a proactive culture, you need to implement synthetic monitoring tools that create actionable benchmarks and inform KPIs. By accelerating root cause analysis via the combination of UX data and infrastructure data, you can proactively handle situations like the example above. 
  2. Moving to a predictive posture: This is the "holy grail" of CX monitoring. If you can predictively rectify issues, you can launch faster, smarter, and cheaper. This happens when you combine shift left agentless monitoring with data processing capabilities like Splunk. You want to leverage ML algorithms to determine exactly what's normal and what's not normal. And you want this to happen at the beginning of your SDLC via automated agentless monitoring solutions like 2 Steps.

That's easier said than done. Agentless monitoring may work with your in-house apps. But when it comes to your Citrix environment, things can get tricky.

How 2 Steps Helps Solve The Common Challenges of Monitoring Apps in Citrix Environments

We all know that virtual environments are trickier to test than in-house servers. You're restricted by the framework of your virtual server, and the bulk of agentless monitoring solutions on the market are geared towards providing value across basic architectures like Chrome. There are three significant issues hampering most organizations from solving CX challenges in Citrix environments.

  1. The current Selenium solutions on the market only monitor at login or launch, and they don't provide real-time intelligence.
  2. If you don't use synthetic monitoring, your user experience is going to suffer.
  3. And your existing synthetic apps exist in siloed environments with multiple dashboards.

2 Steps was designed to tackle all of these pain points.

For starters, 2 Steps is deployable across almost any platform. With intelligent visual recognition capabilities, 2 Steps has unparalleled recognition capabilities that are flexible enough to be deployed on in-house servers, Android, iOS, Windows, IE, SQL, TFA, and virtual servers like Citrix. This flexibility makes 2 Steps immediately useful across environments — regardless of how those environments are being utilized in the SDLC.

2 Steps is also incredibly easy to set up. You don't need expensive development resources to launch a 2 Steps instance. In fact, we highly recommend having a business stakeholder set up the tests. Since developers often have skewed performance indications and bias going into the test, 2 Steps make it so simple that you can leverage the insights of business stakeholders to provide end-to-end coverage for the typical user experience. At the same time, 2 Steps outputs digital videos — ensuring that everyone in the organization can understand the core performance issue without diving into code, data, and graphs.

Finally, 2 Steps integrates and consolidates data directly in your Splunk dashboard — giving you correlations between the UX data gathered by our intelligent agentless monitoring solution and the infrastructure powering your business services. This gives you insights powered by AIOps for anomaly detection, predictive analytics, and clustering.

Are You Ready to Understand Your User Experience in Citrix Environments?

Are you running Citrix virtual apps, desktops, or servers? Do you need an automated user experience monitoring solution that can give you real insights into your core performance issues? Do you want all of that rich performance data streamed directly into your Splunk dashboard for rapid cross-analysis with your critical infrastructure data? Contact us. 2 Steps can help you build a long-lasting, sustainable, and predictive performance environment.

Do you want to learn more about how 2 Steps can help you with your Citrix UX monitoring problems? Check out the full webinar.

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