When I was looking at one of Carl Stalhoods blog pages, I saw an interesting item about a cloud monitoring solution by ControlUp, called ScoutBees.

Traditional on-premises monitoring solutions usually require lots of infrastructure servers and implementation time. ScoutBees however,  is a Managed Service from the cloud that monitors the availability of your VMware Horizon or Citrix published resources (both Cloud and on-premises) without the requirement of any infrastructure on-premises. The service notifies you when a published resource of any of these environment(s) is not available anymore.

This blog post will show you all the steps involved to configure the monitoring of a VMware Horizon DaaS environment.

Pre-Req’s

The prerequisites are actually quite simple. First of all, as I mentioned earlier, you don’t need to install anything on-premises.

Since the service is fully managed, scouts are initiated from cloud-based runners (ControlUp calls them Bee Hives) which are currently deployed in two locations; N. Virginia (US) and Frankfurt (Germany), but other locations and the possibility to add custom location hives will soon be added.

The scouts connect to the published resources through the VMware UAG appliances in VMware environments. There are two requirements for the monitoring service to run successfully:

  1. The UAG must have HTML Access enabled
  2. The UAG must be configured without 2FA (MFA) on the gateway authentication.

Each scout logs into the gateway and connects to the desired published resource. Once logged in, the worker waits and then makes graceful logoff.

Configuration

You can register a free account at scoutbees.io and have one scout connecting hourly with 24 hours of historical data. There are also Starter, Advanced and Enterprise licenses which, at this moment, basically gives you more scouts and longer historical data, as you can see in the pricing menu of the official web page.

Once the account is registered, we can log in and start the configuration. All we have to do is follow the steps in the wizard.

Click Create Scout

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Enter the Scout Name, for example, Windows10 if you are planning to monitor a Windows 10 desktop pool.

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Enter the Gateway Type, in this case: VMware Horizon Cloud

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Enter the Gateway Address, i.e. https://FQDN

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Enter the Scout’s Credentials. Make sure this is a read-only service account which is only allowed to launch the published resource. Fill in the NETBIOS domain name.

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Click Get Resources

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First, select a location that is geographically closest to you; N. Virginia or Frankfurt.

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Select a Schedule for the scouts. The Free and Standard license will only allow the scouts to run every 60 minutes. Advanced and Enterprise allows you to schedule for 15 and 30 minutes as well.

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Next, select the Published Resource, for example the Windows 10 desktop pool.

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Click Submit. The scout will now be available in the main dashboard page (see next chapter)

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Monitoring

You can monitor the published resources via app.scoutbees.io/dashboard

The dashboard will show you all the configured scouts and give you a good first glance about the availability of the published resources. You can even configure scouts from other environments, making this a true multi-tenant monitoring solution.

The following items are currently checked:

  1. Gateway availability
  2. Login (also how much it took you to log in)
  3. Open the published resource (this step is actually to test various sub-steps, such as check if the published resource is available, accepting connections and how much it took to the test to get an operational session – this is when the control is released to the user)
  4. After all of this is completed, the test waits in the session for 1 minute, takes a screenshot of what’s is going on inside the session and then gracefully log off from the session.

This is an example of my lab environment. Please note for testing purposes I have made the resources unavailable at some times.

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The top graph will show you the overview of all the scouts configured and the time in seconds the scouts have successfully logged on to the published resource.

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When you click on the Published Resource hyperlink, for Example Windows10 you will see some additional information regarding Authentication, Connecting and Ready times.

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Ready = The time in seconds when the connecting phase is completed and until the session got ready for usage.

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Connecting = The time in seconds to connect to the published Resource.

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Authentication = The time in seconds for the service account to authenticate to the gateway.

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Click the Image icon to see a screenshot of the login session. You can now verify the desktop is launched and there are no errors appearing.

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Alerting

If there is an issue with one of the scouts connecting to the published resource you will get notified by email:

2019-12-17 11_37_46-There is an issue with job name - Windows10 - Message (HTML)

At this time,  there is no possibility to define any thresholds regarding monitoring, and alerting is only done via mail, integration with any monitoring systems are not yet possible.

Every day you will get a summerize via mail what happened with each scout in the last 24 hours. Advanced reporting, i.e. downloading reports and making filters for relevant information is not yet possible.

2019-12-17 11_39_56-Your Daily Digest from scoutbees - Message (HTML)

Future Developments

Gadi Feldman, the creator of ScoutBees, told me the following about the development of the platform:

“About future development, so there is quite a lot on our table – run in-session sequences, enrich test metrics within-session and network data, allow custom location hives (that will allow customers to test their applications not only from our cloud-based hive but also from their internal networks, and much more).

About custom thresholds, there are lots of plans in this specific area – thresholds, anomaly detection, alert based on what’s going on inside the session and more.

Right after the custom hive location, we going to add the reporting component, which allows you to run different reports on the data (filters, time frames, etc) and also with the ability to export the relevant data to csv.”

Security

A question that might arise with customers is; what about security? Where is the historic data and service account information stored, since this is a cloud solution and is publicly available?

Gadi Feldman told me the following:

“For cloud-based scouts, test details (credentials, address) will be saved on our encrypted cloud-based DB. When the cloud backed instance can only encrypt the data, and the runners are the only instances that can decrypt it (to run the actual tests), no other instance can access the encrypted data.

For on-prem scouts, test details (credentials, address) will be saved locally and encrypted as well on the on-prem runner. We going to save only the test IDs on our cloud DB (so we’ll be able to link it to the relevant organization and user).”

Conclusion

ScoutBees is currently a nice, fast and easy to use cloud-based multi-tenant monitoring solution for your VMware Horizon or Citrix (Cloud) environment(s). It doesn’t require anything to be set up on-premises.

If you are looking for an easy to use solution to monitor your VMware Horizon or Citrix (Cloud) environment, this can be a good solution for you!

In the current state, the solution can be limited for some use-cases. Features such as advanced reporting, defining custom alerting thresholds and integration with other monitoring solutions are not there yet, but as mentioned earlier, the solution is currently being developed with lots of new features, so keep a close eye on them!