Troubleshoot an Activity to Find a Common Thread (Commonalities Analysis)

The Commonalities Analysis dashboard (for a single activity) performs automatic and intelligent troubleshooting to find the common elements of a seemingly random problem with that activity. It checks through hundreds of possible culprits (like the location, or time of day, laptop model and many more), and displays only the highest concentration of poor performers. This can be a powerful tool to help isolate the problem and offer clues to resolving it.

For example, if you receive random reports of slow response times from some users on a specific activity, you would usually cycle through endless possible attributes, looking for the common thread of this problem so you can troubleshoot it. Perhaps they all use a six-inch tablet, or perhaps it only happens when people connect to a particular server, or between 5 and 7am on weekdays, or only if your computer has more than four CPU cores, and so on. Commonalities Analysis checks all this automatically in seconds, and lists the most obvious contenders in a simple, intuitive view, so that you can troubleshoot further.

Important

This dashboard is most effective at isolating a single thread which is common to all occurrences of a problem. However, if your issue is a complex combination of narrow criteria, for example if it only happens in Munich on Lenovo laptops which have 8 core CPUs during peak hours, you may find that looking at any one of these elements is not enough to show a significant change in performance. To investigate complex patterns of data correlations, use the Analyze dashboards (see Key Task: Analyze Activity Performance).

The Commonalities Analysis dashboard showing a specific server where delays are concentrated

After you found a likely culprit, you can select to view the users most impacted by this slow performance, and (if relevant) drill down to see more information about a specific user's device.

For chronic (long term) problems which have been continuing for some time, choose to sort the criteria by their slowest response times (Sort By > Activity Response in the top bar). For recent problems, use the Performance Score. For more information, see below.

Procedure

  1. Step 1 Open a browser and log in to Aternity.
  2. Step 2 You can only access the Commonalities Analysis dashboard by drilling down on an activity with poor performance from any of the following dashboards:
  3. Step 3 For acute (recent) problems, select Sort By > Score in the top bar. For chronic (long-term) problems, select Sort By > Activity Response.

    If you suspect there is a particular part of the response time which is the culprit, you can sort by client time, network time or server time. For example, if you are looking for activities suffering from a clogged network bandwidth, select Sort By > Network Time.

    Sort depending on chronic or acute problem

    Use the Score to measure short term (acute) sudden changes in performance, as they rely on recent baseline measurements. The score clearly reflects a recent change because it would be significantly different from the established baseline response times. For example, if a mail usually opens in 1.5s, (the baseline response time), it creates a minor baseline (small departure from the baseline) and a major baseline (significant departure). If performance is suddenly (acutely) much slower, like 5s, it would be beyond the major baseline, and therefore have a red status with a low score.

    Use the actual response times (not scores) to check the performance of chronic (long term) problems. You cannot rely on measurements based on the recent baselines, as those responses would be chronically slow for some time, thereby skewing baselines to make those times look normal. In this example, if the activity for opening mails has been 5s for several weeks, the system adjusts its baselines to 5s, so this now looks normal, and therefore has a green status with a good score, which is misleading.

  4. Step 4 To find the common elements (attributes) which encapsulate poor performance in this activity, view the top entries in the Attributes section.

    Look for the entries whose performance time (horizontal bar) is significantly longer than its average value (vertical bar), either in the Performance Score column (for acute problems) or in the Activity Response column (for chronic problems).

    Isolate the most likely common themes

    For example, if several entries have much slower performance than other attributes, and they refer to a location, or time slots in the day, focus your troubleshooting on what may be happening at that site or at that time which might cause a slowdown in performance. Alternatively, if a specific department's devices respond slower to an activity, focus your troubleshooting there.

    Isolate a common thread in slow performers
    Field Description
    Attribute and Value

    Displays a common attribute and value. Each row is dedicated to a single value of an attribute, like a specific number of CPU cores, or a specific time slot in the day. For example:

    • The performance on a device with 8 CPU cores would have an Attribute called CPU Cores and a Value of 8.

    • The performance at three o'clock in the morning would have an Attribute call Hour in Day and a Value of 3 AM.

    Total Activities

    Displays the impact of this problem, by showing the total number of times this activity was recorded when the Attribute had this Value. For example, if only a handful of people use email on a device with 8 CPU cores, you can determine the urgency for solving this problem accordingly.

    Performance Score

    Displays the average performance of all activities performed by devices which have this entry's Attribute and Value, by showing a horizontal bar of the activity score. For example, it shows the score for anyone who opened mail on a device with 8 CPU cores during the dashboard's timeframe.

    The vertical bar represents the average score for all end users during this timeframe, so you can see if this is a mild or severe departure from the norm. In this example, it shows the average regardless of their CPU cores.

    Activity Response

    Displays the average performance of all activities performed by devices which have this entry's Attribute and Value. The response times of activities are split into client time ( dark blue), and the combination or union of the server time ( light blue) and the network time ( blue). For example, it could show the average delay time for anyone who opened mail on a device with Windows 7 Enterprise.

    The vertical bar represents the average response times for all end users during the dashboard's timeframe, so you can see if this is a mild or severe departure from the norm. In this example, it shows the average regardless of the time of day.

  5. Step 5 To remove some of the attributes from the list of possible causes, deselect them from the Attributes menu at the top of the window.

    For example, if you definitely know that the data center is not the cause of the problem, you can remove all data centers by deselecting this item from the menu.

    Clear some attributes from the list of common elements
  6. Step 6 To view the impacted users of a single common element (like all those performing this activity at on Windows 7), select that row from the Attributes section, and view the Worst Users section.
    Tip

    If required, you can also sort the data from lowest to highest, to view the best results in the Attributes and the best results in the impacted Users sections, by selecting View > Worst in the top bar. The differences between devices performing well versus those performing poorly could give you clues to improve their performance.

    View the users suffering most from those with this common theme

    At a glance, you may be able to spot additional common attributes in the list, which can help isolate the more common themes of poor performance.

    Field Description
    Username

    Displays the Windows username who was logged in to the device when it last reported performance data.

    Device Name

    Displays the hostname of the device.

    Device Type

    Displays whether this device is a desktop, virtual session, laptop, smartphone and so on.

    Operating System

    Displays the operating system running on the device when it last reported performance data.

    CPU Cores

    Displays the number of CPU processors running in this device.

    Memory

    Displays the size of the RAM of the device.

    Department

    Displays the department associated with this Username.

    Location

    Displays the current location of the device.

    Max. Response

    Displays some trend information about this device's performance on this activity, by showing the longest response time for this activity from this device within the dashboard's timeframe.

    Total Activities

    Displays the impact of the performance hit on this user by showing the number of times this device performed this activity.

    Performance Score

    Displays the average activity score for this device's performance of the activity.

    Activity Response

    Displays the average response time (in seconds) for this device's performance of the activity. The response times of activities are split into client time ( dark blue), and the combination or union of the server time ( light blue) and the network time ( blue).

  7. Step 7 To obtain more information on the details of one of the devices impacted by this issue, hover over a device's Total Activities, Performance Score or Activity Response bar.
    View more details of a device impacted by this issue

    You can drill down to:

  8. Step 8 You can limit the display of this dashboard using the menus at the top of the window.

    You can zoom in on a specific timeframe, or limit the list of attributes, or display the best performances instead of the worst ones.

    Select the data to display in the dashboard
    Field Description
    Timeframe

    Choose the start time of the data displayed in this dashboard.

    You can access data in this dashboard (retention) going back up to 30 days. This dashboard's data refreshes every 10 minutes.

    Attributes

    To remove some of the attributes from the list of possible causes, deselect them from the Attributes menu at the top of the window.

    Total Activities

    Select to display only those attributes which have a minimum number of activities performed during the dashboard's timeframe. This removes the common attributes which were very rare.

    For example, if you select At least 50, it hides any commonalities which occurred less than 50 times (Activity Volume is lower than 50) during the timeframe.

    View

    Select from this menu to display the best or the worst performances in the lower pane of the dashboard.