This was one of the most interesting projects in my long career with Citrix and, more specifically, with NetScaler.

In over 11 years I have seen NetScaler grow from a niche product to one that serves a much broader set of use cases. As part of my role as Senior Director of Product Management, I am responsible to work with a wide swath of partners to find creative solutions and help our mutual customers.

Citrix recently released the NetScaler content pack for IBM Cloud Orchestrator, in which we embarked on an interesting journey toward defining Load Balancing and ADC requirements for all Cloud use cases. IBM and Softlayer are marquee NetScaler customers and we work together as business and technology partners. The NetScaler Content Pack for IBM Cloud Orchestrator was developed and delivered working with IBM engineers in Bangalore to help our common customers with all of their ADC needs while they build their public, private or hybrid Cloud infrastructure. Refer to the blog posted by Mike Ballengee to learn more about the announcement.

Here is more detail on how you can use the content pack and also focus on some of its cool features. 

  • Start with Manage Load Balance Device
    • Register NetScaler Device
      • Provide basic management details like IP, User, Pass etc.
  • Unregister NetScaler Device
    • Select the device you want to unregister

After you register the device, the next step is to set up or configure the load balancer instance.

As you see here, the Load Balancer instance configuration is driven through the new Admin Partition infrastructure on NetScaler. This means that you are defining Soft ADC instances on NetScaler virtual or physical appliances.

This infrastructure provides you the flexibility to carve a single NetScaler appliance into 512 independent instances which can be used for specific purposes while defining the instances you need to provide bandwidth, connection limit and memory requirements. This practically defines how many soft instances you can have on an appliance. All these instances are separated out on Network plane, Data plane and Management plane. This is extremely useful infrastructure for Enterprise App deployment or Service Provider deployment where you need to share the ADC appliance or infrastructure across multiple Apps or Tenants.

While you define the Soft ADC instances, you associate the VLAN for traffic flow, which helps separate out the traffic in between instances. This infrastructure also allows you to have IP duplication across instances which is commonly needed for the Cloud based deployment scenarios.

You can always go back and modify the instance parameters you had setup in the beginning including changes to VLAN association. The content pack allows you to setup core Load Balancing policies and also allows you to configure the SSL certificate/key and other parameters. SSL is a must have for all Cloud use cases given security is of significant value.

Another interesting feature of the content pack is the ability to define Content Based LB pools. Content-based pools work at Layer 7 where the definition and pool selection is based on L7 characteristics of incoming traffic. For example you can say if request URL contains “XYZ” then select this pool and similarly you can use any other parameter of the payload to define pool selection policies. These policies are based on NetScaler’s advance policy infrastructure language and are extremely powerful and user friendly too. You can also associate priority with the policy which provides additional flexibility in decision-making.

These are some of the awesome features which differentiates NetScaler’s integration with IBM Cloud Orchestrator. We truly believe this integration provides unique value to our customers and partners using our technologies to help build various forms of Cloud infrastructure.