Corporations of all sizes today are dealing with an explosive growth in data. This growth is driven by broader trends such as the rise of social networks, video and web, along with the expanding number of mobile and consumer devices being used in the workplace. Providing visibility and business intelligence into this data is placing increasing demands on traditional databases, cloud storage models and unstructured file systems like Hadoop. Together, these trends have created an increasing need for solutions that can effectively scale, secure and optimize data infrastructures.

The NetScaler® DataStream™ feature provides an intelligent mechanism for request switching at the database layer by distributing requests based on the SQL query being sent.  When deployed in front of database servers, a NetScaler ensures optimal distribution of traffic from the application servers and Web servers. Administrators can segment traffic according to information in the SQL query and on the basis of database names, usernames, character sets, and packet size.  You can either configure load balancing to switch requests based on load balancing algorithms or elaborate the switching criteria by configuring content switching to make a decision based on an SQL query parameters. You can further configure monitors to track the state of database servers.

Technology Benefits:

Native SQL Fluency
Using its powerful new DataStream technology, NetScaler now inspects data traffic in real time using native SQL fluency and protocol aware policies for Microsoft SQL Server and MySQL database servers. For Microsoft SQL Server, NetScaler natively parses the Tabular Data Stream (TDS) protocol, enabling integrated policy and control with Microsoft System Center. For MySQL, NetScaler performs SQL-intelligent load balancing, policy control and comprehensive health monitoring to enable secure, large scale Online Transaction Processing (OLTP) deployments.

Database Server Offload
NetScaler with DataStream now offers SQL connection multiplexing, significantly reducing the number of SQL connections to backend database servers, and optimizing database infrastructure by enabling database servers to effectively scale-up to host more databases. The ability of NetScaler to offload SQL connection management provides a cost-effective means of database server consolidation and virtualization.

Cost-effective Scale-Out
By adding native SQL protocol support, NetScaler with DataStream technology now enables advanced load balancing and health monitoring policies to ensure the best performance, efficiency and reliability. By routing all database traffic to the optimal server, companies can even establish custom policies such as directing all read requests to a read-only database server pool. This capability also enables cost-effective high availability by applying advanced SQL health monitoring to ensure that SQL connections are routed only to backend database servers that are performing properly. When combined with a rich set of load balancing policies, including global server load balancing (GSLB), the active monitoring of database servers increases availability and provides organizations with an attractive alternative to expensive database clustering solutions.

Data Security and Threat Control
Using the new DataStream technology, polices can also be applied at the user level to control access to back-end database servers. This allows NetScaler to inspect all SQL transactions and perform SQL protocol validation and data access control. Data access events can also be audited and logged to meet compliance requirements. As a result, NetScaler now provides a holistic view of the web, app and data tiers to enable comprehensive security and risk management of data across an entire datacenter or cloud environment.

In DataStream, the NetScaler is placed in-line between the application and/or Web servers and the database servers. On the NetScaler appliance, the database servers are represented by services.

A typical DataStream deployment consists of the entities described in the following diagram.

Figure 1. DataStream Entity Model

As shown in this figure, a DataStream configuration can consist of an optional content switching virtual server (CS), a load balancing setup consisting of load balancing virtual servers (LB1 and LB2) and services (Svc1, Svc2, Svc3, and Svc4), and content switching policies (optional).

The clients (application or Web servers) send requests to the IP address of a content switching virtual server (CS) configured on the NetScaler appliance. The NetScaler, then, authenticates the clients using the database user credentials configured on the NetScaler appliance. The content switching virtual server (CS) applies the associated content switching policies to the requests. After evaluating the policies, the content switching virtual server (CS) routes the requests to the appropriate load balancing virtual server (LB1 or LB2), which, then, distributes the requests to the appropriate database servers (represented by services on the NetScaler) based on the load balancing algorithm. The NetScaler uses the same database user credentials to authenticate the connection with the database server.

If a content switching virtual server is not configured on the NetScaler, the clients (application or Web servers) send their requests to the IP address of a load balancing virtual server configured on the NetScaler appliance. The NetScaler authenticates the client by using the database user credentials configured on the NetScaler appliance, and then uses the same credentials to authenticate the connection with the database server. The load balancing virtual server distributes the requests to the database servers according to the load balancing algorithm. The most effective load balancing algorithm for database switching is the least connection method.

DataStream uses connection multiplexing to enable multiple client-side requests to be made over the same server-side connection. The following connection properties are considered:

  • User name
  • Database name
  • Packet size
  • Character set

NetScaler addresses the demand for optimal database performance!

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