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Citrix rolls out next NetScaler

Citrix's latest version of NetScaler promises to speed up application deployments for IT administrators.

An upcoming version of Citrix Systems Inc.'s application delivery appliance, NetScaler 9, has more than 350 new features. There are four key ones that promise to simplify application management for IT shops.

The application load balancer is in beta, but will be released at the end of this month with a feature called AppExpert Templates that encapsulates configuration and deployment information for a given Web application.

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For IT administrators this translates to application deployment times, in some cases, within minutes versus days or even weeks, said Julie Craig, an analyst with Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), a Boulder, Colo.-based consulting firm.

"The NetScaler administrator doesn't know much about [how to configure] a Siebel sales force automation application, so he has to go to the app folks, who explain to him what goes into this application and hope he gets it right," Craig said. "Instead of this process, which can take weeks, Citrix is distributing templates that are pre-built configurations."

IT administrators can also use the feature to build policies into the template that define the application's components, which components can be optimized, or which content can be cached or traffic compressed, for example.

Templates for several applications, such as Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Outlook Web Access, the Oracle E-Business Suite and SAP have been developed, but IT managers can also tweak these templates or use the underlying technology to build their own templates from scratch, Citrix said.

NetScaler offers security boost

NetScaler 9 now blocks XML-specific attacks at the application level, such as denial of service or injection attacks.

Another security feature involves URL change management, which IT can use to make a .NET application look like a JSP application, for example, to throw off hackers.

More control

A rate-based policy feature lets IT set application capacity levels based on user, user groups or for the use of the application itself. This also ensures that a given application or user does not overwhelm the network.

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