Citrix Scales NetScaler to New Heights

New WAN optimization, application acceleration, firewall, and cloud technologies pushes the boundaries of appliance clustering.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Apr 18, 2012
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Accelerating and optimizing application delivery over the network is a task demanding more scale as the cloud movement grows. Citrix is now aiming to meet that demand with an updated release for its NetScaler optimization appliances.

NetScaler 10 is a major software release, and is supported across Citrix's entire line of NetScaler appliances, including both the physical NetScaler MPX hardware appliances and the software-based NetScaler VPX virtual appliances. A key part of the new release is the TriScale functionality that enables multiple NetScaler appliances to be clustered together.

"Citrix TriScale is a set of technologies that provide flexible and massive scalability for application and service delivery, which includes load balancing, application firewall security, application acceleration, cloud connectivity and more," Greg Smith, senior director of Product Marketing for the Cloud Networking Group at Citrix, told EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet.

Using an application delivery optimization device for firewall is also something that rival vendor F5 does with its suite of ADCs. Smith explained that NetScaler is a Web application firewall leveraging both a positive security model and a database of attack signatures from network security vendor SourceFire.

TriScale allows up to 32 NetScaler appliances to be clustered, delivering as much as 1.4 terabytes per second (Tbps) of overall capacity. It enables NetScaler customers to scale capacity incrementally, one appliance at a time, to meet actual traffic requirements.

Simply delivering more bandwidth scale isn't enough to optimize application delivery in the modern era. This is where the ActionAnalytics capabilities come in. ActionAnalytics gathers key application information and uses the data to automatically tune the NetScaler policy in real time to best deliver that application or service.

"For example, ActionAnalytics can auto-sense the most popular resources or webpages for a particular application on a real-time basis, and then automatically store this information in its local high-speed memory cache," Smith explained. "The benefit is that NetScaler can then deliver the most popular application content instantly for dramatically better performance, and at the same time offload the Web and application servers from having to respond to multiple users with the same content."

Because scale is no longer just about on-premise equipment in a data center, it's also about cloud, NetScaler 10 includes a new technology called CloudBridge that, as its name implies, is intended to bridge traditional data centers and the cloud. The system supports single sign-on capabilities using LDAP and ActiveDirectory, as well.

"It enables enterprises to leverage public cloud resources as an extension of their own data center," Smith said. "CloudBridge includes strong, standards-based IPSec VPN encryption for data security, advanced network and routing support to preserve network-layer transparency across networks and proven WAN optimization to ensure high performance."

Another key innovation in NetScaler 10 is the DataStream technology that enables load balancing, content switching, and caching capabilities for SQL-based database server infrastructures.

"What makes this possible is native support for SQL protocol, so that NetScaler can natively understand database queries and make the right traffic management decision," Smith said. "What is new in NetScaler 10 with DataStream is the ability for NetScaler to cache frequently requested SQL responses from the database tier to improve the back-end performance of applications."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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