To give customers the ability to automate application delivery network services from OpenStack, Citrix has worked with Red Hat to integrate NetScaler with their OpenStack distribution. 

Many organizations are building private cloud platforms as a way to increase the agility of IT infrastructure and to increase the efficiency of operations to support their business critical applications. Over the past few years we have seen an increasing move towards deploying OpenStack, which is an open source cloud management platform, in production environments.

By integrating with Red Hat OpenStack, Citrix makes NetScaler available to the many organizations that use this popular OpenStack distribution.

As organizations use OpenStack to automate the deployment of servers, storage and networking they are also looking to automate the provisioning of L4 – L7 services. To do this they need their networking equipment vendors to provide integration of their devices with OpenStack in a way that addresses deployment challenges involved in offering infrastructure-as-a-service.

These challenges include scalability, elasticity, performance and flexibility/control over resource allocation. Citrix built NetScaler Control Center as a way to ease integration of NetScaler with the LBaaS service in OpenStack. The Citrix LBaaS solution enables IT organizations to guarantee performance and availability service level assurances (SLAs) as well as provide redundancy and seamless elasticity while rapidly deploying line of business applications in OpenSack.

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Key Features of NetScaler Control Center

Capacity pooling across all NetScaler infrastructure – Pooling of infrastructure is the first step in offering infrastructure as a service and forms the underpinning of the economic advantages of the cloud model. NCC is designed to efficiently pool and manage capacity across all NetScaler appliances including physical (MPX), virtual (VPX) and multi-tenant (SDX) form factors. With no platform restrictions and compatibility with multiple NetScaler firmware versions, NCC based orchestration provides full investment protection to customers with existing NetScaler installed base.

End-to-end automation across all NetScaler appliances – NCC is designed to enable a true “as-a-service” model where the complexity of provisioning and deploying ADC functions on a large pool of NetSCaler appliances is completely hidden from both the cloud provider as well as the cloud tenant. NCC’s automation capabilities include:

  • Auto-instantiation of new VPX appliances as Nova instances as well as SDX instances on-demand, without any manual intervention.
  • Automation of license allocation on newly launched VPX instances.
  • Policy-based resource allocation to “right-size” the auto-installed instances (both VPX as well as SDX instances.)
  • Auto provisioning of admin partitions on MPX, SDX and VPX appliances.
  • Data Plane Service Insertion – Native intelligence of Neutron and the ability to dynamically attach both VPX and SDX instances to Neutron networks.
  • Service Level Assurance – Cloud providers need to guarantee performance and availability SLAs to different cloud tenants. NCC provides granular control over ADC resource allocation policies, giving the provider flexibility in creating differentiated SLAs for cloud tenants based on their application needs.

A simple and intuitive workflow to construct “service packages” for different tenant tiers simplifies the SLA creation process. Service packages can be defined with the following parameters and are customizable per tenant:

  • Appliance type – The target appliance on which a logical NetScaler instance for the tenant is created.
  • Isolation type – Option to choose between fully dedicated instances, shared instances or an individual Admin Partition for each tenant.
  • Resource hard walling – The amount of CPU, memory and SSL capacity to be allocated for each tenant’s dedicated instance.
  • Software version – The specific version of NetScaler firmware for each tenant’s dedicated instance – allows for version and upgrade independence between tenants.
  • HA pair vs single instance – Choice of specifying a single NetScaler instance or an HA pair for each tenant (guarantees availability SLAs for tenants.)

Integration with OpenStack KeyStone for a single-sign-on authentication – NCC integrates natively with Keystone, OpenStack’s authentication service and can retrieve tenant related information directly from KeyStone. This simplifies tenant specific policy management, and eliminates the overhead and potential security concerns involve with explicitly registering OpenStack tenant credentials with NCC.

Flexible placement algorithms – Cloud providers need to have control over the placement of new ADC policies in a fully automated environment consisting of a potentially large fleet of NetScalers. NCC offers a rich set of options for placement algorithms including the following:

  • Simple round robin
  • Utilization metrics (VIP count, average CPU, SSL, memory, throughput utilization)
  • Affinity – Option to create separate device groups to indicate physical affinity to an availability zone, pod, data center or region.
  • External input – Plug-in mechanism for placement algorithm to be evaluated by provider’s placement algorithm and fed into NCC as input.

Centralized Visibility and Reporting – NCC provides a single pane of glass for deep visibility into the operations of the NetScaler ADC services running in the OpenStack environment. Information regarding status, statistics and health across a rich set of metrics aids in centralized visibility, and monitoring, as well as ease of trouble-shooting. Granular per-tenant usage metrics are made available for reporting and charge back.

High Availability – The NetScaler OpenStack LBaaS solution guarantees redundancy through fully automated deployment of NetScaler HA pairs on both virtual as well as physical appliances. Moreover, NCC itself is available as a fully redundant active-standby HA pair with full state synchronization and fault tolerance.

VPX on Nova – The NetScaler virtual appliance has been optimized for running as a Nova instance, and new VPX instances can be launched on-demand by simply invoking Nova APIs through automation suites such as OpenStack Heat templates. The virtual appliance supports options for auto-bootstrapping the instance, including support for the OpenStack config drive to get bootstrap information.

For More Information
For more information on NetScaler Control Center please visit, http://www.citrix.com/netscaler
For the announcement see, Citrix Collaborates with Red Hat on New Product Integrations for Building OpenStack Clouds