Citrix NetScaler: What Is It? | Parallels Insights

Citrix NetScaler is an Application Delivery Controller (ADC) created to optimize, manage, and secure network traffic. It analyzes application-specific traffic to distribute, optimize, and protect Layer 4–Layer 7 (L4–L7) network traffic. A Citrix ADC, for example, bases load balancing choices on individual HTTP requests rather than long-lived TCP connections, allowing a server’s failure or delay to be managed considerably more promptly and with minor client inconvenience. Switching features, security and protection features, and server-farm efficiency capabilities are all part of its feature set.

Citrix NetScaler Rebranded

If you thought Citrix NetScaler was one product, you’re mistaken. It is the defunct name for a line of networking solutions from Citrix. The NetScaler brand was changed in 2018, just a few days after Citrix’s annual Synergy conference. It consisted of the following products:

The core product was NetScaler ADC. In most cases, when people used the term Citrix NetScaler, they meant NetScaler ADC. Some of the products mentioned above are offered either standalone or as part of NetScaler ADC. Moving forward in this article, we’ll just be focusing on NetScaler ADC. When we say NetScaler, we mean NetScaler ADC/Citrix ADC.

NetScaler Versions

Citrix NetScaler alone is offered in several versions. It comes in Premium, Advanced, and Standard editions, with Premium having the most features and Standard having the least. After that, you have a wide range of models that support different system throughputs, L7 HTTP requests/sec, SSL transactions/sec, compression throughput, and so on.

So how much does it? Since there are several models to choose from, you could imagine they also come at a wide range of price points. To give you an idea, at the time of writing,  a single Citrix ADC VPX 10 Mbps Standard Edition costs $2,440—a VPX 1000 Mbps Standard Edition costs $18,300. A 3000 Mbps VPX Premium Edition costs $43,920. These are just the purchase costs of the product itself. We’re not even computing support costs and other associated costs in the product’s lifetime.

Citrix NetScaler in Virtual Application and Desktop Delivery

Citrix NetScaler can act as a middleman by offloading SSL (secure traffic) from application servers. When something is sent over the internet securely, it is encrypted and needs decryption when it reaches the destination. This encryption and decryption process takes up a lot of time and resources. Moving the SSL offloading process to the application delivery controller reduces the burden from servers, thus freeing them to process more data. This also reduces the number of servers required to complete the task.

Although it has several capabilities, Citrix NetScaler is often deployed as a load-balancing tool in virtual application and virtual desktop delivery environments. In every practical sense, that’s overkill. Suppose all you need is distributing workloads across nodes in a virtual application/desktop server farm. In that case, a more cost-efficient solution is to use Parallels® Remote Application Server (RAS).

Parallels RAS Offers Built-In Load Balancing

Parallels RAS is a virtual desktop and virtual application delivery solution that already has a built-in load balancer designed explicitly for this purpose. Because load balancing is included in each Parallels RAS license, its total cost of ownership (TCO) is zero. In addition, Parallels High Availability Load Balancer (HALB) can work as a standalone load balancer—and it comes free with very few simple installation steps.

Load balancing plays a critical role in application and desktop delivery, but it doesn’t have to be overly complex and expensive. Want to try a simple and affordable alternative to Citrix NetScaler?

Try your 30-day evaluation of Parallels RAS today!