With their annual Synergy get together in full flow, Citrix have chosen their biggest customer event of the year to announce the NetScaler 10.5 firmware release- available late Q2. Packed with over 100 new features and enhancements to every core module, we’ll all be blogging about this lot for the whole summer but if you can’t wait till then, here’s the stuff you need to know.

The big obvious difference to anyone getting hands on is a completely new HTML5 user interface. The new GUI feels super slick in comparison to the java front end of old with significant performance increases of 2x to 5x and pop ups being replaced expandable toggles so the Administrator can see what they need to see when they need to see it. If it’s been a while since you did the NetScaler course, or you’ve not got round to doing one yet, the help function has had the once over too, with a tool tip that doesn’t cover the field you are trying to populate and advanced help available on a click. Better view alignment, which makes large configuration objects clearer will also help out, regardless of the Administrator experience level, which is a good place to pick up with some of the new features.

MobileStream – combines previous release mechanisms with a number of new/improved features to increase mobile app performance by 5x to users, regardless of their chosen device, type of network, location etc. NetScaler has always offered significant back end optimisation, reducing the size of server farms for service operators and time spent idly staring a blank screen those consuming the services but with the choice in end points seemingly never ending, combined with the constant mobility of users, MobileStream now allows NetScaler to make policy variable delivery decisions to ensure the best possible service for each individual user. Throw in per app, per user granular access controls and NetScaler 10.5 really starts to shine.

BIC TCP & CUBIC have been added to the stack to help out with mobile delivery routes where traditional TCP mechanisms have previously been too ‘aggressive’ (subsequently increasing content load times = bad) and an increase in the recently introduced Jumbo Frame size allows bigger payloads (where possible) which in turn reduces the number of packets traveling across the network. Nice.

The SPDY gateway now offers SPDYv3 support and there are significant improvements around SSL performance with ECC ciphers delivering more secure (yet lightweight) encryption. SSL profiles and Common Name Checks make administration simpler and Authentication, Authorisation and Auditing (AAA) gets a significant overhaul with session stickiness, FQDN support, OWA session time out, custom errors and big increases in kerberos performance with tokens now saved in the NetScaler packet engine for super quick processing- oh, and TriScale gets a 2x performance increase too.

Oracle database users now get to come to the DataStream party to supercharge SQL queries, with some tweaks for MySQL and Microsoft SQL Server farms helping squeeze more ROI out of under utilised investments. Improvements to Traffic Domains, Content Switching, more LB Service Groups (up from 4 to 8k) and super quick resolution with DNS CNAME Caching all improve the appeal of NetScaler 10.5 across a vast range of use cases. Insight Center gets GeoMaps to help trouble shoot user by location and a nice Adaptive Threshold feature that shouts for help from one of the Admin team through mail or SMS when service levels drop. The SDX platforms get a first time user wizard and simpler manageability, which leads nicely in to the NITRO news..

Interesting times ahead friends.

© Al Taylor

UPDATE 30th June –

Great walk through the GUI from Marius..