Quick review: ControlUp

One of the advantages of being a member of the vExpert community is the access you get to licenses and subscriptions to a bunch of different software and services. One of the licenses on the list is from ControlUp.

ControlUp -Logo-01

As I recently ran into this product working on a project at a client of mine, I decided to give it a go and enter into the ControlUp Expert Program. CTO of ControlUp Yoni Avital was nice enough to schedule a GoToMeeting with me to give a me a general overview of the product. This blog item gives you a short overview of what ControlUp does and what’s planned for the next release of ControlUp.

Installation

The ‘installation’ of ControlUp is a very straightforward process:

  • Download .zip file which and execute the contained ControlUp Console
  • Login with your ControlUp credentials
  • Add Computers and/or VMware- /  XenServer-servers to the managed devices in the ControlUp console
  • Start monitoring! 🙂
  • (Optional) Install ControlUp agent in windows guests for extended functionality.
  • (Optional) Install ControlUp Monitor for continuous monitoring, so you don’t have to keep the ControlUp Console open and allows for alerting on “Computer Down”  incidents. ControlUp can also be used for scheduled exporting of certain data for future analysis with ControlUp Reporter.

What does ControlUp do?

ControlUp is a very easy to install piece of software  which allows you to monitor virtual environments and is primarily aimed at monitoring SBC / VDI windows-based workloads (XenApp / XenDesktop /Horizon View / RDS deployments).  The dashboard it presents gives you a quick overview of what’s happening in your virtual environment and which hosts are under stress and on which area you should start focussing when starting troubleshooting (Disk / Memory / Networking) slow performance for example. As every monitoring solution you can also setup alerting if certain thresholds are reached or on certain events.

ControlUp -Dashboard-01

ControlUp Dashboard

As it is aimed at SBC / VDI workloads it monitors certain metrics which are important to UX (User Experience), like ICA/HDX latency, logon duration and resource consumption.

ControlUp - User Experience Metrics-01UX-metrics

Monitoring of the ESXi-/XenServer hosts is done agentless (by accessing the API directly from the console / monitor).

Installing the ControlUp agent into the managed (domain-joined) windows guests allows for:

  • In-Depth Monitoring (very welcome for VDI monitoring)
  • Advanced management actions (like interacting with uses sessions)
  • Configuration comparison

Besides monitoring ControlUp allows you do management tasks on the managed machines (simultaneously) and it even allows for (custom) scripted actions based on BAT, CMD, VBS or Powershell which you can execute on context you choose (Local Computer, User Session, PowerUp Console or a other defined computer). So if the action you want isn’t in ControlUp you can always script it yourself and execute in on the location you want it to execute. Really good expandability of the application if you’re somebody who likes to script like me.

ControlUp - Script Based Actions-02Script based actions

Besides the scripts you write yourself there’s also a community behind ControlUp which has some nice scripts you can download. Examples of scripts which are already provided by the community:

  • Analyze logon duration
    Gives a detailed overview of the most recent logon process for a specific user.
  • Analyze GPO Extensions Load Times
    Shows how long each Group Policy Client Side Extensions ran for a given user.

ControlUp - Script Based Actions-01Downloadable Community script-based actions

 

SControlUp - Actions -01ome of the other management tasks you can do:

  • Manage Filesystem
    Allows for distributing file system changes centrally.
  • Manage Registry
    Allows you to compare registries of a set of machines and synchronize registry keys
  • Manage Services
    Allows you to manage services of a set of machines, like starting / stopping / restarting services. You can also modify startup type and logon as properties. What I would also like to see personally is the ability to edit recovery options for services as I use that frequently to setup services to autorestart when failing.
  • Manage Programs and Updates
    Allows you to compare installed programs and updates over a set of computers.
  • Remote Control (RDP)
    Start a Remote Control session straight from the ConsoleUp Console
  • Run Processes
  • And more, and more, and more!

 

What’s next?

Upcoming features for ControlUp v5 (Current version is v4.1):

  • Monitoring Hyper-V hosts (Q2 2016)
    Currently ControlUp supports VMware (5.x and up) & XenServer (6.x) as the virtualisation hosts you can monitor. ControlUp will be also supporting Hyper-V hosts in the next release.
  • Cloud based ControlUp Insights
    Cloud based service which provides you with beautiful (interactive) reports for troubleshooting, management reporting purposes and trend analysis from historical information which has been automatically uploaded to a cloud based data warehousing solution (Amazon Redshift ). Currently ControlUp Insights uses a scheduled export (CSV) from the ControlUp Console / ControlUp Monitor which is imported on regular basis. I think the new solution is a good step into the world of Big Data :).
    Of Course we’re providing you with some eye candy of the future solution:

    ControlUp - Up Next-03ControlUp - Up Next-02ControlUp - Up Next-01

Conclusion

I’ve found ControlUp to be a very easy to set-up tool which gives you a quick insight into what’s exactly going on in your (virtualized) VDI/SBC environment. It also gives you a toolkit to do the day-to-day administration which is needed in a VDI/SBC environment. So please go check it out!

There’s a free trial available and the guys/girls@Controlup are more and happy to get you going.

As I’m very excited about the ease of use of this product I decided to enter the CloudUp beta program, so I can keep you updated on new features the product is providing for VDI/SBC-administration. So more to follow!

More information

As this quick preview is far from complete: For more information I would suggest you to contact ControlUp to give you a global overview of the solution (Yoni Avital and his colleagues do a great job presenting their solution to us techies) or visit their website www.controlup.com.

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Robert Verdam

Consultant at bConn ICT
My main focus is infrastructure (Storage, Networking and Computing), but I'm also very interested in designing and implementing VDI and Server Based Computing-environments.

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