Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Performance Manager 8.2... Whats new and some tips!

AppSense Performance Manager 8.2 was recently released and one of the nice new features introduced in Performance Manager 8.2 was the default configuration templates that ship with the product.

These templates provide a great starting point for anyone looking to implement AppSense Performance Manager within their estate. That said, performance must still be assessed on a case by case basis and the configuration that works for my environment may not necessarily work within your environment.

This post will share a few tips that I follow when implementing AppSense Performance Manager.

1. Identifying Issues

I always start by speaking to not only the administrators administering the environment but also a subset of end users to try and identify if they are experiencing any performance issues within the environment.

More often than not end users will know there is a problem (i.e. the system is running slowly) long before the administrators so its always good to understand what these look like from their perspective. If there is any pattern to these performance issues, etc. Perhaps every day at 3pm a specific server performs badly, etc.

2. Baselining

In order to truly understand the impact Performance Manager is having within an environment I always try and deploy Performance Manager to a subset of my infrastructure first. For example, if I had 10 XenApp servers I would deploy Performance Manager to half and not to the other half.

Once its deployed I would not only keep an eye on performance counters but also speak to my end users. Performance Manager does a really good job to ensuring users have the resources they need to complete a task when they need to complete it so speaking to users is likely to reveal a lot about how the environment is performing.

3. Keep it Simple...

Keep the configuration as simple as you can. Performance Manager can be configured to be extremely granular and as such Administrators should avoid configuring things for the sake of configuring things.

I fell foul of this several years ago when I implemented Performance Manager on a XenApp 4.5 farm and tried to configure it a little excessively. I found I went from being able to get 35 to 40 users on a server down to 25 and it was because of my Performance Manager configuration. When I took a step back and configured it correctly I could comfortably get 45 users on a server with some servers running with 50 users on a server and still staying within defined performance metrics.

4. Understand Performance

Lastly you need an understanding of the impact of Performance Manager actions. If I am configuring rules to trim memory when I minimise an application page file usage will go up and context switches are likely to go up. By purely looking at performance monitor a lot of administrators will see these two going up and immediately look to disable Performance Manager because its increased page file usage.

With this in mind you can start to build a configuration for your environment. If you're using VDI where increased IOPs is a bad thing you may want to disable memory trimming however if you're in a XenApp environment where you want to try and minimise memory usage as much as possible then you probably want memory trimming enabled.

5. Process names instead of full paths

By using process names you can be sure the process will be managed regardless of where it is located.

6. Disable Un-used Features

Once you have built, tested and proven a configuration disable all features that aren't in use within the configuration. This is done though the Options > Feature Usage window from the Resources Setup ribbon menu:

By doing this you reduce the chance of a configuration error at a later date which could have a negative impact on the environment. 

7. If in doubt... contact someone who knows about Performance Manager

If you're having issues with Performance Manager and you have a current support contract don't hesitate to contact AppSense Support. 


With that in mind, I've included my copies of the Performance Manager configurations where I've made some minor tweaks to get the most out of my lab environment.

All of my configurations use 1, 2 or 3 for the share factors where 1 is the lowest, 2 is medium and 3 is highest. For me this makes the most sense compared to the default 5, 10 and 15 share factor rules.

Performance Manager Configurations
MD5: 88d38b3e8f2ac59986e345c2fe62b05e

People in the know

With that said here are a few people who know a lot about Performance Manager and I look to as the guru's in this field:

Shane Wescott - @Oldhandatuv
Ian Bray - @AppSenseTechie
Matthew Murphy - @mattmurphy79

Any questions, I'm on twitter...