So the long awaited NetScaler 10.1 release has finally been announced by Citrix on the eve of Synergy today with the new features focusing on network traffic visibility, mobility and cloud elasticity. Here’s an overview of the key messaging.

First up, the analytic tool NetScaler Insight Center (Insight 2.0) has been a regular topic of conversation over the last few weeks. Runs as a stand alone appliance to collect AppFlow service performance data from multiple NetScaler ADCs. Insight Center then provides granular view of actual service performance along with specific enhancements around the analysis of XenDesktop with HDX Insight which also feeds network performance data back in to XenDesktop Director for simplified service management. Have a look at Web Insight for a deep dive in to web service delivery. Read the full review.

Corporate, BYOD or delivering service to customers and communities, mobility is hot and Citrix are all over it. Mobile networks are challenging at the best of times so NetScaler gets a stack of upgrades including the maturing Google SPDY protocol and MultiPath TCP to reduce the effects of high latency and limited bandwidth to keep users engaged and happy. Nice XenMobile connector to play with too.

SDX TriScale clustering is going to become very relevant as more organisations get to grips with network flexibility and the ever-present rise of SDN. New for NetScaler 10.1, individual ADC instances can be clustered on a single SDX appliance or the cluster split over multiple SDXs which further increases the flexibility to scale clusters up and down as demand dictates.  As we now see 3rd party workloads running as instances on SDX hardware, this modular growth should look attractive to many use cases but the polishing up of the AutoScale feature in conjunction with Citrix CloudPlatform is really going to push the scaling message beyond the reach of third party vendors who’s ADC solutions look heavily anchored in rigid complexity. In short CloudPlatform and NetScaler have the ability to self provision minimal server capacity and then spin up new resource when required. When the user counts drop, AutoScale de-provisions the servers to reduce idle resource. Have a look at the e(lastic)commerce post for a typical use case.

The release notes, as usual, are very very long. Citrix class this as a minor release but there’s some serious stuff in the small print. Two factor SAML, Kerberos to tidy up the loose ends with AAA and DataStream which also now supports DataBase Profiles and transparent logging. New traffic domains to create multiple isolated environments (over lapping IP ranges from a single appliance), telco grade IPv6 transitioning enhancements DNS64/NAT64, offloading of DNSSEC operations, App Firewall gets cloud sourced attack signature updates and also now supports signatures generated by the Whitehat and IBM AppScan vulnerability scanners, TFTP load balancing, dynamic load balancing of CloudBridge (Repeater) appliances, UI gets a makeover etc, etc…

It’ll be great to see the cloudDNA team help our customers roll these new technologies in to production environments and no doubt learning a few tricks along the way. That’s the best thing about my job, there’s always something new to talk about. 🙂

© Al Taylor

21st May 2013