This is my followup post to a poll I did inquiring about people’s usage of Citrix Tools as a Service (TaaS), also known as Citrix AutoSupport, Citrix Predictive Support, or whatever you care to call it. I was drawn to this subject by a conference call I sat in on with other Citrix partner organizations that had quite a few technical people on the call. Yet, surprisingly, when they did a quick poll about Tools as a Service almost 70% didn’t use it or didn’t know about it. I honestly thought, “This can’t be right”, so I ran a similar poll on my website. I’ll be honest, it’s not a huge sampling. It garnered 45 votes. What surprised me though was that almost half of the respondents didn’t use or know about TaaS. A snapshot of the results is below so you can see the for yourself.
This floors me. I am a big proponent of TaaS. Both where it is now, and where it is going. I can’t understand how more people don’t use it or don’t even know about it. If you are a consultant or systems administrator you should be using TaaS as one of the support tools at your disposal. I know many people in the Citrix community that are held in high regard, and TaaS is almost always without fail in their troubleshooting toolbox. Heck, even Citrix Support uses it, so why isn’t it in yours?
Lets step back for a moment and show what TaaS is for the uninformed, and what it is capable of so you can see the benefit. Tools as a Service come out in public beta during Synergy:Barcelona in 2011 with two core products in its portfolio: XenServer and NetScaler. In fact, you can read about that here along with the original launch webinar speaking about TaaS. Since that time it has grown to support not only XenServer and NetScaler, but also XenApp, XenDesktop, PVS, and I have it from good sources that we can expect some XenMobile support in Q4 2014. So in three short year, it has encompassed almost the entire core product suite. Not too bad.
Also, its simplicity is arguably one of its greatest strength. If you have NetScaler, you simply generate a support file from the GUI, connect to the NetScaler and retrieve the file then upload to TaaS. For XenApp/XenDesktop you use Citrix Scout and it uploads the data directly from within its UI. XenServer, similar again, just generate a server status report and upload it. Provisioning Server (PVS), the latest addition, again simply run a data collection tool and upload. From there, TaaS will scan all the data contained within those files for each respected technology and report back to you on the most common configuration issues it finds, as well as providing some very handy reporting on versions and patch levels, etc that are ALWAYS good for as-built documentation. It even compares your XenApp farms against CTX129229.
For those who are new to TaaS, here are links to the important articles detailing these procedures so I don’t need to rewrite all of them.
- How to Upload Data to Auto Support (TaaS)
- How to Use Show Techsupport Collection Script for NetScaler
- How to Collect Diagnostic Information for XenServer
- (PVS) Citrix TaaS – Look Who’s Joined our Team!
- (XenApp/XenDesktop) Citrix Scout
Below is a screenshot of a dataset I recently uploaded from a XenApp farm I was doing a routine health check on. Nothing ground breaking here, but I want you to see the breadth of data categories that TaaS makes available to you. For a free tool, this is good.
For the routine problems, TaaS is a perfect fit. I don’t claim it will give you insight into a majorly screwy environment, but for a good high level overview and health check and making sure all the versions match, patches match, what the error codes mean (it gives you feedback on that)..it really can’t be beat. The great thing is, the more people use it and more data that is run through it the better it gets and the more community comments are added to the errors giving you more insight into what may be a minor error you can safely ignore and what could be a larger issue.
So spread the word. This is the best tool that half of you aren’t using, and its only getting better.