uberAgent https://uberagent.com Windows, macOS, Citrix & VMware monitoring on Splunk Sat, 08 Jun 2019 11:04:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Announcing uberAgent for Apple macOS https://uberagent.com/blog/announcing-uberagent-for-apple-macos/ https://uberagent.com/blog/announcing-uberagent-for-apple-macos/#comments Sat, 08 Jun 2019 11:04:42 +0000 https://uberagent.com/?p=9718 We are proud of what we have achieved. In the six years of its existence, uberAgent has been deployed to more than half a million endpoints. Some of the world’s most successful enterprises are using uberAgent’s metrics to improve their users’ experience. Our customers typically start out with uberAgent at one type of endpoint, e.g....

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We are proud of what we have achieved. In the six years of its existence, uberAgent has been deployed to more than half a million endpoints. Some of the world’s most successful enterprises are using uberAgent’s metrics to improve their users’ experience. Our customers typically start out with uberAgent at one type of endpoint, e.g. Citrix Virtual Apps. Once they see the product’s enormous practical value in their own environment, they often expand and deploy uberAgent to their other types of Windows devices, too: physical, virtual, RDSH, PCs, and laptops.

But why stop there?

Many organizations have a certain percentage of Macs. This number could be as low as 5% or as high as 20%, but it is there. As soon as you have fantastic Windows monitoring, you want it for your Macs, too. A single product that spans all relevant platforms in end-user computing, collecting the same high-quality metrics for macOS as it does for Windows. That is what we are announcing today.

Licensing

uberAgent on macOS is not a separate product. It is covered by the existing licenses. Customers just need to ensure they have enough licenses to cover their Mac users, too.

Timeline

We are working hard to port all the good qualities from the Windows version of uberAgent while making sure that uberAgent feels just right on the macOS platform. We hope to be able to release a beta version later this year.

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uberAgent Masterclass at E2EVC Berlin https://uberagent.com/blog/uberagent-masterclass-at-e2evc-berlin/ https://uberagent.com/blog/uberagent-masterclass-at-e2evc-berlin/#respond Tue, 04 Jun 2019 14:36:19 +0000 https://uberagent.com/?p=9685 As in the previous year, we will be hosting an uberAgent masterclass at the E2EVC community conference, which takes place in Berlin this week. E2EVC is the perfect place to learn from and network with your fellow end-user computing geek. The amount of brainpower that comes together for E2EVC several times a year is staggering....

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As in the previous year, we will be hosting an uberAgent masterclass at the E2EVC community conference, which takes place in Berlin this week. E2EVC is the perfect place to learn from and network with your fellow end-user computing geek. The amount of brainpower that comes together for E2EVC several times a year is staggering. What better place for a deep-dive technical uberAgent training?

Masterclass Agenda

We have content for anybody with a solid background in end-user computing. If you are new to uberAgent you will get a thorough technical architecture overview. If you are already experienced in the product you should enjoy the deep-dives. Along the way, we want to hear about your monitoring requirements. And, as always, we are very open to feature requests.

The specific topics to be covered are subject to change depending on the attendees’ interests. Following are some of the areas we hope to cover:

  • Architecture overview
  • Architecture deep-dive
    • How we collect user data
    • How we collect browser performance data
    • How we collect Citrix site data
    • How we collect Citrix ADC data
    • Multi-tenancy
    • Username encryption
  • Installation
  • Configuration
  • Splunk data volume optimization
  • Adding custom metrics
    • Performance counters
    • Custom scripts
  • Logging
  • Dashboards
    • uberAgent’s Splunk data model
    • Custom dashboards
    • Custom lookups

Registration

Please register at the desk where you pick up your badge. The masterclass starts at 14:30 on Saturday.

See you soon!

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uberAgent 5.2.1: Elasticsearch 7, GPU Usage, IE Enhanced Protected Mode https://uberagent.com/blog/uberagent-5-2-1-elasticsearch-7-gpu-usage-ie-enhanced-protected-mode/ https://uberagent.com/blog/uberagent-5-2-1-elasticsearch-7-gpu-usage-ie-enhanced-protected-mode/#respond Mon, 06 May 2019 17:23:36 +0000 https://uberagent.com/?p=9438 We are happy to announce the newest version of our user experience and application performance monitoring product. uberAgent 5.2.1 adds support for Elasticsearch 7 and brings many other improvements. For a full list of changes, please consult the release notes. As always, upgrading is highly recommended (instructions). Elasticsearch 7 uberAgent now fully supports the latest Elasticsearch...

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We are happy to announce the newest version of our user experience and application performance monitoring product. uberAgent 5.2.1 adds support for Elasticsearch 7 and brings many other improvements.

For a full list of changes, please consult the release notes. As always, upgrading is highly recommended (instructions).

Elasticsearch 7

uberAgent now fully supports the latest Elasticsearch version. Instructions on how to prepare Elasticsearch for uberAgent are available here.

GPU Usage

Even Better Robustness

uberAgent has long supported GPUs, and with version 5.2.1 the GPU detection is even more robust. Per-machine and per-process GPU compute usage now switch to an alternative algorithm if the original algorithm fails (observed with Nvidia Grid). This requires Windows 10 1709 or later.

GPU Engine per Process

uberAgent now determines per process which GPU engine is used most heavily (requires Windows 10 1709). This makes GPU monitoring on a process level much more accurate. Different uses like video decoding, or 3D acceleration can be clearly distinguished.

Internet Explorer Enhanced Protected Mode

uberAgent collects metrics about web app performance from all major browsers through add-ons, including Internet Explorer. The add-on now works in Internet Explorer’s Enhanced Protected Mode, too.

About uberAgent

uberAgent is a Windows user experience analytics and application performance monitoring product. Its highlights include detailed information about boot and logon duration (showing why and when boots/logons are slow), application unresponsiveness detection, network reliability drilldowns, process startup duration, application usage metering, browser performance per website and remoting protocol insights.

About vast limits

vast limits GmbH is the company behind uberAgent, the innovative user experience and application performance monitoring product. Our customer list includes organizations from industries like finance, healthcare, professional services, and education, ranging from medium-sized businesses to global enterprises. vast limits’ network of qualified solution partners ensures best-in-class service and support anywhere in the world.

Our founder, Helge Klein, is an experienced consultant and developer who architected the user profile management product whose successor is now available as Citrix Profile Management. In 2009 Helge received the Citrix Technology Professional (CTP) award, in 2011 he was nominated a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), in 2014 he was a Splunk Revolution Award Winner, in 2015 he became a VMware vExpert. Helge frequently presents at conferences and user group events.

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Monitoring User Session Activity With uberAgent https://uberagent.com/blog/monitoring-user-session-activity-with-uberagent/ https://uberagent.com/blog/monitoring-user-session-activity-with-uberagent/#respond Thu, 11 Apr 2019 14:53:29 +0000 https://uberagent.com/?p=9272 The other day I got a question from a customer if it is possible to monitor session activity with uberAgent. Of course, I thought! One has to just look at the session connection state which can be active, disconnected, etc. That is monitored by uberAgent very well. But when I thought about it further, I...

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The other day I got a question from a customer if it is possible to monitor session activity with uberAgent. Of course, I thought! One has to just look at the session connection state which can be active, disconnected, etc. That is monitored by uberAgent very well. But when I thought about it further, I noticed that the situation is not so trivial. Read below how I solved it with a custom search.

Customer’s Requirements

Our customer is a service provider and wants to know if users are actively working in their sessions and to what percentage. “Actively working” means users are logged in and are doing something in the session. Non-active time means the users are logged in but not working. The latter is the case when:

  1. the session is disconnected
  2. the session is locked
  3. the screensaver is active

How to Solve That With uberAgent

Disconnected and Idle Sessions

The first point was easy to solve, you just have to search for sessions which are in the state active so all others are sorted out.

| pivot `uA_DM_Session_SessionDetail_Users` Session_SessionDetail_Users
   latest(SessionUserLower) as User
   splitrow
      SessionGUID
   filter host in (*)
   filter SessionConnectionState is "active"

Locked Sessions

Points two and three took me a while to figure out. uberAgent’s capability to collect the foreground application brought me to my goal. Let us start with locked sessions.

Want to know more about uberAgent’s capability to collect the foreground application? Read more here.

If the desktop is locked, the foreground process is LockApp.exe. That is the screen which appears before you have to enter your credentials. Mine looks like this:

uberAgent’s application identification groups LockApp.exe into the application Microsoft Windows OS. To identify the process uniquely, I have overwritten the identification in uberAgent’s configuration file:

[ProcessToApplicationMapping]
# Lock App
^C:\\Windows\\SystemApps\\Microsoft.LockApp_cw5n1h2txyewy\\LockApp\.exe$ = Lock App

While this upstream lock screen looks nice on physical PCs, it makes no sense in virtual environments and is typically disabled. In virtual environments, users are taken directly to the “real” login screen where they have to put in their credentials. That is a secure shell and cannot be accessed by uberAgent, hence the foreground application field is empty – which is good for us as it is empty only in this case!

By the way, if a user is just looking at the desktop with all applications closed the foreground application identified by uberAgent is Microsoft Windows OS (foreground process is explorer.exe).

As a conclusion uberAgent is able to identify if a desktop is locked either with Microsoft’s Lock App or without.

Active Screensaver

After I found out how to recognize the lock screen with uberAgent, the screensaver was a breeze. The foreground application is empty when the screensaver is active, too.

The Final Search

So the logic to see if a session is not active is as follows. One statement has to be true.

  • the session connection state is not active
  • the session is active and the foreground app is Lock App
  • the session is active and there is no foreground app

That translates into this easy-peasy Splunk eval command: | eval Active = case(SessionConnectionState != "active",0, (SessionConnectionState = "active" and SessionFgAppName = "Lock App"),0,(SessionConnectionState = "active" and isnull(SessionFgAppName)),0,1=1,1)

Here is the final search I ended up with:

| pivot `uA_DM_Session_SessionDetail_Users` Session_SessionDetail_Users
   count(Session_SessionDetail_Users) as EventCount
   latest(SessionConnectionState) as SessionConnectionState
   latest(SessionFgAppName) as SessionFgAppName
   latest(SessionUserLower) as User
   splitrow
      _time
      period second
   splitrow
      SessionGUID
   filter host in (*)
| eval Active = case(SessionConnectionState != "active",0, (SessionConnectionState = "active" and SessionFgAppName = "Lock App"),0,(SessionConnectionState = "active" and isnull(SessionFgAppName)),0,1=1,1)
| stats
   sum(Active) as Active
   sum(EventCount) as EventCount
   latest(User) as User
   by
      SessionGUID
| eval "Active time (%)" = round(Active / EventCount * 100,1)
| eval sortfield='Active time (%)'
| sort limit=0 -sortfield 'Active time (%)'
| table
   User
   "Active time (%)"

And the result:

Alternative Method

While the above works per session, uberAgent also collects idleness in percent per machine. 100% means the system is completely idle. This metric is used by Windows to determine whether to start the screen saver or turn off the display. Details are available in our documentation.

Test Setup

  • Microsoft Windows 10 Enterprise 1809 x64
  • uberAgent 5.2
  • Splunk 7.2.5

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Learn About uberAgent at Virtual Expo, a Free Online EUC Event https://uberagent.com/blog/learn-about-uberagent-at-virtual-expo-a-free-online-euc-event/ https://uberagent.com/blog/learn-about-uberagent-at-virtual-expo-a-free-online-euc-event/#respond Thu, 14 Mar 2019 19:56:09 +0000 https://uberagent.com/?p=8598 We are proud to be a part of the xenappblog.com Virtual Expo event, one of the best resources for learning about cloud-based end-user computing from renowned industry experts. What is Virtual Expo? Virtual Expo is a one-day event where world-class presenters share their real-world experience in cloud and virtualization projects. They explain what works, and...

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We are proud to be a part of the xenappblog.com Virtual Expo event, one of the best resources for learning about cloud-based end-user computing from renowned industry experts.

What is Virtual Expo?

Virtual Expo is a one-day event where world-class presenters share their real-world experience in cloud and virtualization projects. They explain what works, and what does not. They share scripts and tools that worked well, and, probably most importantly, the lessons they learned, so that others can benefit.

Best of all, everybody can join: Virtual Expo is a web-based virtual event, and it is free. Register now!

Sessions and Topics

The agenda lists many cool topics like the following:

  • What you need to know about Windows Virtual Desktop
  • Citrix Virtual Apps & Desktops recommended multi-site practices
  • Hosting your Citrix stack on Microsoft Azure
  • The Windows Virtual Desktop (WVD) Bullshit
  • 10 issues uberAgent helps identify in minutes
  • Windows Virtual Desktop – what does it mean for Citrix?
  • 20 application packaging hacks
  • The state of Citrix Cloud – April ’19 edition
  • Citrix cloud migrations: successes and challenges
  • Have you ever wondered what those Citrix consultants know that you don’t? What are their secrets?
  • DevOps for desktops

Register now and enjoy the show!

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Swiss Insurance Relies on uberAgent. You Can, Too! https://uberagent.com/blog/swiss-insurance-relies-on-uberagent-you-can-too/ https://uberagent.com/blog/swiss-insurance-relies-on-uberagent-you-can-too/#respond Tue, 26 Feb 2019 17:41:35 +0000 https://uberagent.com/?p=8596 Customer success is what makes us tick. We are happy every time an organization improves the responsiveness and performance of their applications and desktops with the help of uberAgent. Sometimes we are even allowed to tell the story. This is one such time. How uberAgent Helps With Migrations Infrastructure migrations are hard. Citrix migrations are...

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Customer success is what makes us tick. We are happy every time an organization improves the responsiveness and performance of their applications and desktops with the help of uberAgent. Sometimes we are even allowed to tell the story. This is one such time.

How uberAgent Helps With Migrations

Infrastructure migrations are hard. Citrix migrations are harder. There are large numbers of moving parts, many of which are replaced or upgraded in a migration: server hardware, operating system versions, Citrix components, line of business applications.

For such a project to be successful, it is vital to have a clear understanding of what you are dealing with. uberAgent’s application inventory and usage functionality not only tells you what is installed but also what is used, when and how often.

Before new hardware can be ordered, sizing and capacity calculations need to show exactly what is required to find the perfect mix of CPU, disk and memory resources for your workloads.

During the pilot phase, you might want to compare the new platform’s performance with your existing solution to ensure things are improving and you are making the right kind of investment.

Once the migration is underway and the load on the target infrastructure is increasing, it needs to be carefully monitored to guarantee that responsiveness remains at the piloted levels.

uberAgent helps with all of the above. Die Mobiliar found it to be easy to use while providing comprehensive information about everything that matters in a Citrix environment.

Read the success story

About uberAgent

uberAgent is a user experience analytics and application performance monitoring product. Its highlights include detailed information about boot and logon duration (showing why and when boots/logons are slow), application unresponsiveness detection, network reliability drilldowns, process startup duration, application usage metering, browser performance per website and remoting protocol insights.

About vast limits

vast limits GmbH is the company behind uberAgent, the innovative user experience and application performance monitoring product. Our customer list includes organizations from industries like finance, healthcare, professional services, and education, ranging from medium-sized businesses to global enterprises. vast limits’ network of qualified solution partners ensures best-in-class service and support anywhere in the world.

Our founder, Helge Klein, architected the user profile management product whose successor is now available as Citrix Profile Management. In 2009 Helge received the Citrix Technology Professional (CTP) award, in 2011 he was nominated a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), in 2014 he was a Splunk Revolution Award Winner, in 2015 he became a VMware vExpert. Helge frequently presents at conferences and user group events.

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Practice Guides on Driver Inventory and Citrix ADC Alerting https://uberagent.com/blog/practice-guides-on-driver-inventory-and-citrix-adc-alerting/ https://uberagent.com/blog/practice-guides-on-driver-inventory-and-citrix-adc-alerting/#respond Tue, 19 Feb 2019 21:53:46 +0000 https://uberagent.com/?p=8600 Our growing collection of practice guides has two new articles that explain how to generate comprehensive driver inventory reports and how to set up alerts for Citrix ADC issues. What Are Practice Guides? Practice guides show how to use uberAgent in real-world scenarios. Each practice guide tries to answer a specific question. Customers are encouraged...

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Our growing collection of practice guides has two new articles that explain how to generate comprehensive driver inventory reports and how to set up alerts for Citrix ADC issues.

What Are Practice Guides?

Practice guides show how to use uberAgent in real-world scenarios. Each practice guide tries to answer a specific question. Customers are encouraged to look at the solutions presented in our practice guides and use them as a basis for their own implementations. Practice guides are part of uberAgent’s documentation.

Your guide by Florence Ivy under CC

Generating Driver Version Inventory Reports

This practice guide shows how to collect information on drivers, including vendor & device names and driver versions. The guide lists several techniques. Some of them can be used to collect information on all drivers that are installed, while other examples demonstrate how to filter for specific manufacturers.

Citrix ADC Monitoring & Alerting

This practice guide helps set up alerts for Citrix ADC issues. It lists several common problems and shows how to identify each of them with a Splunk search, which in turn can be used to generate alerts. The list of alerting searches includes:

  • Applicance bandwidth: used vs. licensed
  • Get notified when SSL cards are down
  • Get notified when a certificate expires within four weeks

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Resources for Learning uberAgent & Splunk https://uberagent.com/blog/resources-for-learning-uberagent-splunk/ https://uberagent.com/blog/resources-for-learning-uberagent-splunk/#respond Tue, 12 Feb 2019 16:54:08 +0000 https://uberagent.com/?p=8334 Hello, my Name is Martin. Let me start by giving you a quick introduction about myself before talking about the resources I used to get started with uberAgent and Splunk. Like some of my colleagues, I live near Cologne, Germany. I joined vast limits, the company behind uberAgent, about a month ago. For the past...

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Hello, my Name is Martin. Let me start by giving you a quick introduction about myself before talking about the resources I used to get started with uberAgent and Splunk.

Like some of my colleagues, I live near Cologne, Germany. I joined vast limits, the company behind uberAgent, about a month ago. For the past 10 years, I spent a great part of my work life with Microsoft, Citrix and VMware technologies. The main focus was on planning, design and continuous improvement of implementations for customers and colleagues, using products like Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops heavily.

With my new position as a Customer Success Engineer, my claim, to provide the customer with the best possible user experience, has not changed. What has changed though, are the products and technologies that make this possible.

Where to Start

uberAgent and Splunk crossed my path in the past now and then, but there was never any real opportunity to get in touch with these products in detail. I used the last few weeks to deepen my knowledge and came across several resources, which I want to share with you.

uberAgent

Let us start with uberAgent.

What I found to be the best resource is at the same time the one that is available to everybody. I am talking about our product documentation, which you can find here. It covers all topics from Quickstart over Installation to Advanced Topics, like optimizing data volume, just to name a few. We do also offer webinars and slides exclusively for our partners, which helped me a lot. Some of that content is also available to the public. For example, have a look at our video uberAgent explained in three minutes to get an idea what uberAgent can do for you.

What really got my attention is the User Logon Duration Dashboard. I know from personal experience that every Citrix administrator out there had to justify the “Citrix is slow” complaint at least once. And I think your prayers have been heard. Just have a look at this user logon data.

Dashboard User Logon Duration Group Policy CSEs and GPOs

Dashboard User Logon Duration Logon Process Performance

You can drill down into every single logon even to a process dependency level. In this case we probably should have a look at the drive mappings.

Splunk

On the Splunk side, I want to point out three locations to check out.

Your first stop should be the Splunk Training and Certification site, which offers a wide range of further education. You will find a combination of free and paid content. Speaking of free, I want to recommend two courses specifically. First up, the trainings are self-paced, so you can take them anytime. They offer a mixture of different content, including Instructor on Demand (IoD) videos, hands-on challenges, and quizzes to check on your learning progress.

The first course is Splunk Infrastructure Overview. This will give you an overview of the Splunk Enterprise infrastructure and a look at how to grow a Splunk deployment. With best practices for deploying, extending and integrating Splunk. The second one is called Splunk Fundamentals I and focuses on how to search and navigate in Splunk. It covers reports, dashboards, lookups, and alerts and will also introduce you to Splunk’s datasets features and Pivot interface.

The second resource is a rather classic learning approach. It is a book, but also available as PDF and other mobile readable formats. It is very well written, easy to understand, with real-life examples and a perfect way to recapitulate and consolidate what you have learned so far. You can download your copy of Exploring Splunk for free here.

Last but not least have a look at the Splunk documentation, as well as the Splunk forum. Anytime you want to know more about a Splunk topic, there is a good chance that it has already been documented or discussed.

Conclusion

I highly encourage you to set up a local development environment with uberAgent and Splunk. A free trial version is available for Splunk and we are always happy to send out free community licenses. The installation is done in minutes and you can start analyzing your data right afterwards.

At this point, I would like to thank all of my colleagues for their great support in my first weeks here at vast limits.

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uberAgent 5.2: Firefox Browser Performance & Citrix ADC Monitoring https://uberagent.com/blog/uberagent-5-2-firefox-browser-performance-citrix-adc-monitoring/ https://uberagent.com/blog/uberagent-5-2-firefox-browser-performance-citrix-adc-monitoring/#comments Mon, 04 Feb 2019 17:08:40 +0000 https://uberagent.com/?p=8190 We are happy to announce the newest version of our user experience and application performance monitoring product. uberAgent 5.2 brings new features and improvements for any kind of device. For a full list of all improvements and bugfixes please consult the changelog. As always, upgrading is highly recommended (instructions). Web App Metrics From Mozilla Firefox In...

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We are happy to announce the newest version of our user experience and application performance monitoring product. uberAgent 5.2 brings new features and improvements for any kind of device.

For a full list of all improvements and bugfixes please consult the changelog. As always, upgrading is highly recommended (instructions).

Dashboard Citrix ADC Appliance Performance

Web App Metrics From Mozilla Firefox

In version 5.0 we added detailed information about browser page loads and background data transfers. Exactly what you need to analyze the performance of SaaS and web apps.

Our customers loved this feature! We started with support for Chrome, then Internet Explorer and are now extending this to Mozilla Firefox (support for Edge to follow). The functionality requires a browser extension to be installed.

Citrix ADC Monitoring

uberAgent has had Citrix site monitoring capabilities for a long time. With 5.2, we are extending our Citrix monitoring portfolio to Citrix ADC (formerly NetScaler ADC). Citrix ADC is a critical component in every Citrix deployment as it provides a secure gateway to published resources from all over the world. As it is such an important component, administrators need to know if it is fast, secure and configured correctly.

uberAgent delivers right that by monitoring:

  • Citrix ADC appliance performance like CPU, RAM and disk utilization
  • Citrix ADC gateway and virtual server performance like network data volume, SSL settings, bound policies and availability
  • Availability for services and service groups

In addition, uberAgent collects inventory data from all Citrix ADCs and shows you licensing, high-availability and firmware information as well as TLS certificates with their expiration dates.

Instructions on how to configure uberAgent’s Citrix ADC monitoring can be found here.

Other Improvements

Apache Kafka

With uberAgent 5.2 we introduce the ability to send the collected data to Apache Kafka via Confluent REST Proxy. Instructions are available in the documentation.

Data Models

We separated the inventory datasets into a dedicated uberAgent60m accelerated data model, with the summarization period set to 60 minutes. This helps reduce the Splunk server load.

Licensing

As more and more of our costumers start using Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory, we added the ability to cover this service within our licensing.

Log File Improvements

uberAgent’s logfile now highlights version mismatches between the agent and the configuration file. This is intended as a reminder to enable additional metrics introduced in a newer version that a customer configuration does not cover.

About uberAgent

uberAgent is a Windows user experience analytics and application performance monitoring product. Its highlights include detailed information about boot and logon duration (showing why and when boots/logons are slow), application unresponsiveness detection, network reliability drilldowns, process startup duration, application usage metering, browser performance per website and remoting protocol insights.

About vast limits

vast limits GmbH is the company behind uberAgent, the innovative user experience and application performance monitoring product. Our customer list includes organizations from industries like finance, healthcare, professional services and education, ranging from medium-sized businesses to global enterprises. vast limits’ network of qualified solution partners ensures best-in-class service and support anywhere in the world.

Our founder, Helge Klein, is an experienced consultant and developer who architected the user profile management product whose successor is now available as Citrix Profile Management. In 2009 Helge received the Citrix Technology Professional (CTP) award, in 2011 he was nominated a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), in 2014 he was a Splunk Revolution Award Winner, in 2015 he became a VMware vExpert. Helge frequently presents at conferences and user group events.

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Why Monitor Web Apps & Browsers? https://uberagent.com/blog/why-monitor-web-apps-browsers/ https://uberagent.com/blog/why-monitor-web-apps-browsers/#respond Fri, 18 Jan 2019 12:26:43 +0000 https://uberagent.com/?p=8093 Is a browser just another app? Should Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer be monitored like Word, SAP and all the other business productivity tools? Or do browsers require special attention, dedicated features, specific support? The Modern Web Let us start with a look back. Gmail, one of the first modern web apps, was launched in...

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Is a browser just another app? Should Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer be monitored like Word, SAP and all the other business productivity tools? Or do browsers require special attention, dedicated features, specific support?

The Modern Web

Let us start with a look back. Gmail, one of the first modern web apps, was launched in 2004. A lot has happened since!

Funny anecdote: initially, Gmail ran on a bunch of old Pentium 3 boxes that Google employees did not want any more. That is why Google had to come up with the invitation system to slowly ramp up the user count, which led to a huge demand for invitations. At times, they were sold on eBay for $150. Accidental marketing genius.

The browser is an OS for web applications

Today, the browser is an OS for web applications. Browsers provide much the same services to applications as regular operating systems do. This includes APIs, a runtime environment, and hardware abstraction with controlled access to resources like graphics, storage or networking.

The site What Web Can Do Today gives a nice overview of modern web capabilities and which of those are supported in the browser you are accessing the site with. Here is what it looks like in Chrome 70:

Browser support for the 43 capabilities listed at What Web Can Do Today varies a lot:

  • Chrome 70: 33
  • Firefox 63: 23
  • Edge 1803: 20
  • IE 11: 12

Web Apps in Disguise

Web apps are more and more morphing into desktop apps. The web is coming for you if you want it or not.

Electron

Electron is a framework for packaging web apps as native apps. Popular examples of apps that make use of Electron are Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Visual Studio Code.

Benefits for developers include a native UI and an automatic update mechanism. But most important of all, Electron apps are platform-independent. A single codebase supports Windows, macOS, Linux, and, of course, web apps.

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

PWAs are web apps that look like native apps. Capabilities include offline usage, full-screen experience (no browser UI), add to home screen, and push notifications even when the browser is not running.

The big advantage of PWAs is that they offer many advantages of “real” (smartphone) apps without requiring the installation of an app (which many users shy away from). PWAs are still a relatively new technology. Expect a massive growth in the next years.

To try PWAs today go to mobile.twitter.com in your phone’s browser. You will be asked if you want to add Twitter to your home screen and if you want to enable notifications.

Conclusion

Web apps have reached the same level of capability and complexity as traditional apps. They should be monitored in the same way.

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