John Sequeira


Friday, July 21, 2006
Amped::Citrix F1 Fun

Amped::Citrix F1 Fun

I sat through the Citrix Netscaler sales pitch yesterday at F1 Boston. I'm not an ops guy, so it's difficult to get too excited about these kinds of presentations ( I felt physical pain at the VMWare UG meeting when they discussed SANs), but the Netscalers *did* have some functionality relevent to some of my clients, and some cool ajaxy caching that I'll mention.

The Netscalar sales pitch is that it's an omnibus solution to 6 or 7 'BOX THAT SITS IN FRONT OF YOUR WEB FARM' appliances -- load balancing, http caching/gzip compression, TCPIP optimization, SSL offload, intrusion detection etc.

One thing I do instinctively at presentations like this is to try to connect the features with things I know how to build. Here's how I mentally mapped the Netscalar solution to components I know about:

  • Load Balancing: mod_balance/mod_backhand
  • Compressing : mod_gzip
  • tcp/ip optimization : No clue
  • SSL offload : mod_ssl/mod_proxy
  • Intrusion Detection : Novell AppArmor/SELinux + mod_security + mod_rewrite
  • HTTP Acceleration Extreme: Jemplate + Template::Generate? (another audrey module, sheesh)

    The last two Netscalar features cross from the ops to the applications space, and are worth mentioning. For intrusion detection, Netscalar can be programmed with regex's for SSN's or credit card numbers, and can both scrub and alert you when outgoing pages that match. It also has a learning mode, where you can train it on constitutes 'safe' URLs and browser behavior. It exports its rules to something you can edit and convert into a policy (I think apparmor does this. AFAIK mod_security doesn't have a learning mode, but as an app-level firewall it enforces similar policies)

    The HTTP Acceleration Extreme was most interesting to me as a developer. It will embed a javascript page differencing agent in web pages it sends out, that will intercept hyperlink clicks and do an AJAXy differential page download just like ASP.NET's ATLAS project. It reminded me a bit of Jemplate + Template::Generate, but I bet the ATLAS UpdatePanel control is probably closer to their actual implementation.

    Oh, and the racing? There were 11 folks interested in the gocarts, and after two heats and a final, yours truly managed to get pole position and the fastest time on the track. My average cart speed was 41 MPH, with top speed 46MPH -- that's the fastest I've ever been on. I love carting.
    10:40:45 AM      comment []  trackback []

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