NetScaler updates take pressure off servers

NetScaler has enhanced its 9000 line of server optimization products to improve application performance over distributed networks. An analyst says NetScaler is helping companies deliver ERP and CRM applications over the Internet without huge, costly support infrastructure.

Networking systems vendor NetScaler Inc. has announced enhancements to its NetScaler 9000 server optimization line that are intended to improve the performance of enterprise applications over distributed networks.

The new capabilities, which the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company will make available next month, include secure, remote access for Web-based and client/server applications; terminal access and files through integrated Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Virtual Private Networking (VPN); optimized delivery of static and dynamic content via integrated, in-memory caching; and XML-based application programming interfaces (APIs) for building customized device configuration features.

In a nutshell, the 9000 line of network appliances improve the end-user experience for those using networked applications. According to Mark Weiner, NetScaler's senior director of strategic marketing, the company and its core product line were developed by a group of former Sun Microsystems Inc. employees who wanted to find ways to combat slow server performance caused by data transmission using Transmission Control Protocol (TCP).

Weiner said the product's new features are geared toward its large customers, like content providers MSN and Yahoo and Web conferencing application service provider WebEx Communications Inc. Also targeted are large e-commerce companies such as Lands End Inc. and TicketMaster.

Companies like MSN have many Web pages with 20 or 30 objects per page, Weiner said, and just a few page requests result in hundreds of hits to MSN's Web servers. But the new in-memory caching features "take all those cycles off the box," reducing the number of connections to the server and allowing it to focus on application processing.

NetScaler is also helping companies like 7-Eleven Inc. improve the performance of Microsoft's Outlook Web Access e-mail application. Weiner said NetScaler accelerates that application's performance by speeding SSL VPN services, which in turn decreases the time users spend waiting for messages to load.

Michael Hoch, research director with Boston-based analyst firm Aberdeen Group, said NetScaler's upgrade puts it near the front of the pack regarding application flow response and traffic connection management.

Hoch said many end-user companies are trying to deliver enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) applications to remote employees over wide area networks or the Internet, and NetScaler is helping them do that without implementing a huge, costly support infrastructure.

There are a number of companies competing in this market, Hoch said, including some security providers as well as large vendors like Cisco Systems Inc. Other competitors include Redline Networks Inc., ArrayNetworks Inc. and Warp Solutions Inc.

Additionally, Weiner said NetScaler's new XML API support enables its customers to write their own software tools for configuring NetScaler products, or build their own Web services for doing so.

Pricing for NetScaler's 9000 series starts at $25,000 and includes a five-user license for secure remote access at no additional charge.

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