ControlUp loves Horizon Session Recording!

Ok maybe it’s more me than ControlUp but the usual audience on this blogs knows that I work for ControlUp and that I love the VMware flings. Recently we received the question from several South-America based customers if we where able to start the Horizon Session Recordings using a Script Based Action. Technically we would have been able to but with the current version we would have to add the user to an ad group that was configured for this and than would be at the mercy of AD replication for the recording to actually start. Que Trentent Tye who reached out to the one and only Andrew Morgan (imho king of the VMware Horizon related flings) if it would be possible to add an API or PowerShell module to start the recordings. I guess Andrew’s reaction was that he saw the use case for this and within no-time he had a beta version ready for us that had a Powershell module. By the time you read this the new version has been added to the flings site that includes all of these goodies and you can find it here.

<I wanted to insert a picture of Andrew here wearing a crown but that was too much>

The Horizon Session Recording fling

First let’s look at what the Horizon Session Recording fling actually does.

VMware Horizon Session Recording allows administrators of a VMware Horizon environment to record their users activity in their Blast Extreme virtual desktop and application sessions. Recordings are uploaded from the agent devices to the central web service, for central storage and ease of viewing.

The Session Recordings are stored as MP4 files for watching via the web console or downloading to play in a local player.

So we have an agent> server application where the videos are stored on the server. During the setup I found that this was very easy but configuring a proper SSL certificate makes things a lot easier as you otherwise need to supply the thumbprint of the self-signed certificate during installation of the agent or in the registry.

The server interface is easy enough with the standard dashboard showing recent recordings while on the Recordings tab you can search for for specific recordings.

The agent is a plain installer that only asks for the server location and the SSL certificate thumbprint. The last one is only needed when the certificate itself is not trusted, if you used a VA signed certificate for the server there’s no need to enter the thumbprint.

Starting a recording

As said in the previous versions of the recorder it was required to configure an ad group and add users to that group to record their sessions. With this version we get a powershell module installed with the agent. It gets even better because if you copy the entire /api folder from the agent installation folder to another system you’re perfectly able to start recordings from there.

Starting a recording using powershell is a matter of importing the proper dll

import-module Horizon.SessionRecording.PowerShell.dll

And now the user can start the recording themselves if they have too many rights by using Start-HSRSessionRecording -SessionID %sessionid%. The session ID can be found as a metric in ControlUp or in the task manager if you add the column under users.

Start-HSRSessionRecording -SessionID 1

My user clearly didn’t have enough rights on the system so I got an error, actually not a bad thing so users can’t easily overload the server this way.

Update: Andrew confirmed this is by design to stop users from recording each other.

Starting the recording remote is a matter of adding the computername to the command

Start-HSRSessionRecording -ComputerName pod02-2001 -SessionID 1

Here you also see in the bottom right corner the message that the user receives when a recording is started.

And stopping is a matter of this command.

Stop-HSRSessionRecording -ComputerName pod02-2001 -SessionID 1

Other Cmdlets in the PS module

Integrating with ControlUp

To integrate the Horizon session recording with ControlUp I have created two basic Script Actions. both use three arguments, besides the required SessionId I add the username and machine name in the output so it’s obvious for whom the recording was started.

$sessionId=$args[0]
$username=$args[1]
$computer=$args[2]

try{
    $InstallDir = Get-ItemPropertyValue -path "hklm:\SOFTWARE\VMware, Inc.\VMware Blast\SessionRecordingAgent" -Name installdir
}
catch{
    write-host "Error determining the Horizon Session recording installation location. Please make sure the Horizon Sesison recording Agent is Installed."
}
try{
    import-module "$($InstallDir)\api\horizon.sessionrecording.powershell.dll"
}
catch{
    write-host "Error loading the Horizon Session Recording PowerShell Module. Make sure the latest vesrion of the Horizon Session Recording Agent is installed"
}
try{
    Start-HSRSessionRecording -SessionID $sessionId
}
Catch{
    write-host "Error starting the recording"
}

write-host "Started session recording for $username on $computer"
$sessionId=$args[0]
$username=$args[1]
$computer=$args[2]

try{
    $InstallDir = Get-ItemPropertyValue -path "hklm:\SOFTWARE\VMware, Inc.\VMware Blast\SessionRecordingAgent" -Name installdir
}
catch{
    write-host "Error determining the Horizon Session recording installation location. Please make sure the Horizon Sesison recording Agent is Installed."
}
try{
    import-module "$($InstallDir)\api\horizon.sessionrecording.powershell.dll"
}
catch{
    write-host "Error loading the Horizon Session Recording PowerShell Module. Make sure the latest vesrion of the Horizon Session Recording Agent is installed"
}
try{
    stop-HSRSessionRecording -SessionID $sessionId
}
Catch{
    write-host "Error stopping the recording"
}

write-host "Stopped session recording for $username on $computer"

Both these script will get better error handling and notifications in the future but you still see the old error in the background but with the notification that the recording was started.

And stopping the recording

And that shows how easy it is to control the Horizon Session Recording using a Script Based Action. If you combine this with a trigger, cpu usage for example you might be able to capture what is causing that spike, just remember to also create a trigger than stops it after the cpu goes down again.

Changelog

Version 2.2.0

Server Changes:

  • Added the ability to import server settings easily from another running server.
  • Added the ability to filter searches based on farm / pool.
  • Added the ability to lock and unlock sessions from the session view page.

Agent Changes:

1: Misc bugfixes.
2: PowerShell API to interact with the Recording agent, to perform such tasks as:

  • Start a session recording.
  • Stop a session recording.
  • Troubleshoot connectivity issues.
  • View machine configuration
  • Add a trusted certificate.

Login Monitor Script & Check MK

Last night Paul Grevink posted a nice post about the basic setup for Check MK and i am really looking forward to the rest of the series. At my current customer we are also using Check MK so i decided to use the script I made for the VMware Login monitor fling to give output usable for Check MK. At first I was messing with the plugin folder in the check mk folder on the windows server hosting the txt files but a colleague pointed me at the local folder. The big difference is that with the local folder Check MK directly uses the output and the plugin monitor it needs another python file on the check mk server to use the data.

The script:

# This script was created by Wouter Kursten 
# contact: wouter.kursten@detron.nl or w.kursten@gmail.com or https://www.retouw.nl or @Magneet_NL on twitter
#
# Feel free to grab/copy/alter the script no need to mention me
# But if you create a better / more complete version please send me a mail so I can use that script also
#
# This script is meant to use with the VMware Logon Monitor FLing
# https://labs.vmware.com/flings/vmware-logon-monitor
# This awesome tools actually shows how long it takes to login to your systems
#
# And yes the info block is longer then the script itself
#
# There are only 5 variables you can set
#
# $filefolder for where the Logon Monitor Output files are stored
# $filefilter for when you want to filter what files are being read
# $fileage for how far back in time you want to go
# $warning for the warning value above wich Check MK will give a Warning.
# $critical Gues what, this is the value above wich Check MK will give a critical report.

#Region Variables
$filefolder= "d:\logonmonitor\"
$filefilter="*.txt"
$fileage="5"
$warning="20"
$critical="30"
#endregion

#region Run 

$filelocation="$filefolder"+"$filefilter"
$filelist=get-childitem "$filelocation" | where-object {$_.LastWriteTime -gt (get-date).addminutes(-$fileage)}
$count=($filelist).count
$timing=@()

foreach ($file in $filelist)
	{
	$duration=(get-content $file | select-string -pattern "LogSummary] Logon Time:" | %{$_ -split " "})[6]
	$timing += $duration
	}

$avg= $timing | measure-object -average  
$average = [System.Math]::Round($Avg.average,2)

if ($average -le "$warning")
	{
	write-output "0 VMware_Horizon_View_Logon_Time LogonTime=$average|Logons=$count Logon time : $average sec for $count logons in the last $fileage minutes."
	}
	elseif ($average -gt "$warning" -and $average -lt "$critical")
	{
	write-output "1 VMware_Horizon_View_Logon_Time LogonTime=$average|Logons=$count Logon time : $average sec for $count logons in the last $fileage minutes."
	}
	elseif ($average -ge "$critical")
	{
	write-output "2 VMware_Horizon_View_Logon_Time LogonTime=$average|Logons=$count Logon time : $average sec for $count logons in the last $fileage minutes."
	}
#endregion

As you can see I am not only using the average logontime as before, I also count the amount of logons in the time where we measure this time. Offcourse you can create lots more data to use in Check MK this way

The output I create:

"2 VMware_Horizon_View_Logon_Time LogonTime=$average|Logons=$count Logon time : $average sec for $count logons in the last $fileage minutes."
  • The first digit is the status, 0 for ok 1 for warning and 2 for critical.
  • After that the service name that shows in Check MK
  • The come the 2 numbers we created with their own description separated by | This is used by Check MK to create a diagram
  • then separated by a space (and after this you can use spaces) the text that wil show in Check MK.

The result:

2016-08-11 21_12_01-Beheerders Desktop

The diagram:

2016-08-11 21_14_01-Beheerders Desktop