Citrix NetScaler Review4U
July 22, 2016
Citrix NetScaler Review4U
Score 8 out of 10
Overall Satisfaction with Citrix NetScaler
Citrix NetScaler is being used across the organization, providing load balancing and increased availability of applications and services. Wherever a business critical service exists it becomes paramount to provide end users with the highest available levels of service and reliability. Load-balancing services (such as those provided by Citrix NetScaler) provide this type of reliability and trust.
- Flexibility. NetScaler assumes its admins know a bit about networking and in-depth details surrounding the applications they are configuring access for/to. This being so, the range of configuration options is very broad allowing various versions' combinations of protocol patterns, expressions, rules etc., all to the benefit of the admin.
- Granularity. Having such a broad range of configuration options available, while still allowing simple options to be configured simply. The GUI is well-stylized and navigation has a good flow.
- Ease of control. For load-balancing of simple services right out of the box, NetScaler makes it pretty easy, compared to the range of options available in the surrounding GUI and under the hood.
- The companion product that is the Command Center, feels like an afterthought/step child. Though recent versions have been better, some of the trigger rules have issues applying (at least with the tests in my environment to VPX & MPX appliances) and there's an overall unease in trust with it.
- Like most products in this type the CLI will provide the best experience where the GUI fails. An example is stats. A vserver that uses service groups will not show individual stats per server in the GUI (as of v10.5) but will in the CLI. I think things like this are just version deficiencies and will be corrected in future releases.
- Java applets.
- Citrix documentation is getting better but hasn't been the greatest in recent years and sometimes tends to be conflicting.
- We intended for the NetScaler appliances to replace older load-balancing appliances. We were able to migrate to the NetScalers without any issues and they have been reliable (with the addition of several extra services).
- Failures experienced by the NetScalers in HA groups have been few and have not had any impact to the business.
- Citrix support experience has been positive in both troubleshooting issues and supplying RMAs for replacement equipment.
For hardware products I've used smaller installations of F5 and CoyotePoint appliances. For software load-balancing solutions I've used Piranha (for LVS). The NetScaler and the F5 probably have the highest learning curves and the newer F5's probably have the greater support for well-known applications and "wizard-like" template configuration (although NetScaler does have some similar features), I like the configuration flexibility of being able to do anything with pretty much any application (given the limits of your knowledge of that application).
Citrix NetScaler is suited to any environment where hardware load-balancing, application delivery or SSL offloading is a requirement. It's a product that can be used to manipulate traffic flows in a multitude of different ways and its only limit is the protocol, application and imagination of the administrator. It's not a product that includes helpful wizards to guide the admin through each process gracefully. While it is a fairly intuitive product to use, it's not for someone who is not initiated into the ways of networking and network protocols and communication. Nor is this a product that would lend itself solely for the usage of single usage scenarios where small traffic flows would be expected (although if desired the VPX product would probably suffice in that specific scenario depending on the environment).