Citrix is working very closely with Microsoft to deliver any kind of Microsoft application to the end-user and to grant seamless cross-platform compatibility and the best possible user experience. Today, I’d like to summarize technologies and use cases for Citrix NetScaler ADC that could be beneficial for customers choosing ADC for their Microsoft landscape.
NetScaler could deliver different Microsoft Applications to the end client including, but not limited to Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Skype for Business, Dynamics CRM or Remote Desktop, deployed on customer premises or in Microsoft Azure or using Office 365 Cloud. Independent of deployment scenario user will benefit from the same authentication experience, single sign on (SSO) by accessing different applications and faster application response.
Advanced authentication proxy for secured access to Microsoft Applications
NetScaler, acting as a reverse proxy (or TMG replacement), can provide users with flexible authentication ability using a variety of methods, including Username/Password, SmartCards, OTP Tokens, Multi-Factor Authentication capabilities of MFA Server in Azure or OpenID using public accounts (like Google/Facebook, etc).
Different methods could be also combined or switched, based on multi-factor requirements of conditions of user location, device or group membership.
After successfull authentication on NetScaler, users should not authenticate themselves in back-end service again, but could be SSO by NetScaler. Even in scenarios where the user is authenticated on premises and would like to access cloud services in Azure Cloud or vice versa, NetScaler could act as AD FS Proxy and accomplish SSO using SAML authentication protocol for on on-premises as well as cloud services. Exchange customers can also benefit from using Form-Based SSO for OWA users, which eliminates the need the change the default Form-Based authentication method on OWA Server.
And even more – users can benefit from using one URL for accessing different kind of services on NetScaler Unified Gateway. In this case, the user can access OWA portal, published Web Applications (like SharePoint), Remote Desktop or even Office 365 Applications by just using one URL with seamless SSO experience.
Microsoft Front-End Optimization
NetScaler can provide not only secure access to application and make SSL Offloading to maximize Front-End Server performance, but it can also optimize the load time and render time of web pages (like OWA or SharePoint web sites) by:
- Reducing the number of requests required for rendering each page.
- Reducing the number of bytes in page responses.
- Simplifying and optimizing the content served to the client browser.
It could be very helpfull for SharePoint customers, too, who can benefit from optimizing of:
- Content and structure reports
- Doc Library for HTTP & HTTPS
- Gallery items
- Reusable content
- Survey forms
- CSS library
Of course NetScaler can also cache and compress HTTP traffic for such Applications as OWA or SharePoint.
Microsoft Back-End Optimization
NetScaler customers could also benefit from using DataStream technology for optimizing data access for Microsoft SQL environments. It 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, 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.
Multi-tenant ADC that can scale
To make administration of ADC available and flexible for different IT departments or application managers, NetScaler have different multi tenancy capabilities:
- Implementing multiple hard-walled ADC instances on a single physical platform using NetScaler SDX
- Sub-dividing any individual ADC instance into multiple admin partitions, with complete management isolation and soft-walled separation of underlying system resources.
- Treating a single physical platform as a “pool” of instances, admin partitions and system resources that can be reallocated as needed to meet changing business conditions.
Application monitoring capabilities of NetScaler Insight Center
In complex environments, monitoring the applications and diagnosing the application issues can be a challenge; this can affect the user experience and employee productivity. NetScaler Insight Center, a virtual appliance, addresses the application visibility challenge by collecting detailed information about web-applications, web page performance data, and database information flowing through the NetScaler ADC. It enables IT administrators to troubleshoot as well as proactively monitor customer issues in matter of minutes and have answers to typical questions:
- For SharePoint (or any other application), which clients are experiencing high latency?
- For any application (or individual client), how does response time breakdown in terms of client network latency, server-side network latency, and server processing time?
In the past hour, which applications (and individual servers) have had the most hits?
- For any given client, what are the applications (and URLs) that have been accessed?
- What operating system and browser is a given client using?
- Which applications/servers are sending the most error-related responses (HTTP 5xx)?
NetScaler Deployment Options
Worth mentioning, that NetScaler is available in 5 form factors:
- MPX – physical appliance
- VPX – virtual appliance for Hyper-V, XenServer, VMWare ESXi, KVM
- VPX for Cloud – virtual appliance for Microsoft Azure and AWS
- SDX – multi tenant hybrid appliance
- CPX – container platform
It brings the customers freedom of choice and ability to deploy the ADC near the applications, independant from form factor or location, starting from on premises deployment, cloud deployment in Azure to evaluation of containerized form.
To make a deployment of NetScaler for Microsoft environments easy and fast, Citrix and the Citrix Development community provide Application Templates for a variety of Microsoft Applications. Customers and partners can also find all needed information about integrating NetScaler ADC and optimizing Microsoft Applications in Citrix Deployment Guides at www.citrix.com/netscaler/deploy