The core of running a business has always been about staying ahead of the competition. In today’s world, it is not enough to save money (defensive), you need to figure out how to make a lot more money (offensive). In any business making this mindset change, the role of the CIO and IT group dramatically changes – the pressure is on for them to help create new value, and quickly. With the availability of public cloud infrastructure, containerization and the internet, this pressure has never been greater as competition is now coming from everywhere – rapidly, and at a low cost.
While there are many different imperatives driving change, there are a few in particular that are impacting our customers the most.
The first imperative is to build things fast. Customers are fickle, the competition is nimble, and fashions are constantly changing. The ability for a business to quickly take advantage of change is at the heart of competing. With the advent of agile development methodologies, and simplified infrastructure through containerization developers can deliver apps faster. Mo’ apps equals mo’ money!
The second imperative is to listen to the data. Analytics and data science are now at the heart of building a delightful user experience to drive conversions. The key to this is to have a consolidated data source with all of the relevant data that can be mined. Data mining is about enabling better operations and troubleshooting by creating insights and actionable analytics.
Third, is to create and preserve choice. Choice, in this case, is the ability for a customer to be able to move their infrastructure to the best or lowest cost platform as needed. Instead of the older days of “lock-in”, nobody should be building an application architecture that locks you into a single platform without good reason. Arbitrage is good!
These business imperatives are starting to drive a significant shift in enterprise infrastructure. Simplicity in infrastructure, product development, application architecture, and the whole lifecycle of building applications is completely changing. With the availability of cloud infrastructure, containerization, and DevOps, change is happening very quickly.
According to Gartner, there is a new emerging architecture for building, deploying and operating new applications – called “Mode 2”, with older-style applications predictably called “Mode 1” applications. Mode 2 is not just a shift in product architecture; it is a completely new way of building applications, operating them, and building them with a highly agile, iterative and data-driven approach. It also drives a new way of thinking around how teams are structured, how they communicate, and how they plan.
Fortunately, Mode 2 applications are great and are now starting to get widely adopted, especially since the tools and platforms to enable those applications are now becoming widely available. Unfortunately, Mode 1 applications are not going away – and will probably stay with us for a long, long time.
Introducing The NetScaler Management And Analytics System (NMAS)
In the NetScaler group we’ve been tracking these changes for a long time, and have announced parts of our strategy to help customers tackle this new reality. In December 2015 we announced our “ADC in a Container” product called NetScaler CPX that runs natively on Docker and can provide rich ADC functionality in that environment – the first major vendor to do so.
However, just having a product form-factor that can run in the infrastructure is not enough – it has to be paired up with a management, policy, and automation orchestration system that can handle the scale, data collection, and analytics that go along with this new reality of building and deploying “new style” (Mode 2) applications, without leaving older applications and platforms behind.
To help our customers tackle these new challenges we are introducing our new management platform called the NetScaler Management and Analytics System (NMAS). NMAS centralizes policy management across devices and applications, provides service automation, and real-time analytics end-to-end, from one platform, to simplify IT operations and enable DevOps processes while reducing costs. Administrators can use it to manage, monitor, and troubleshoot the entire global application delivery infrastructure from a single, unified console. NMAS also enables IT administrators to troubleshoot as well as proactively monitor application issues in a matter of minutes.
NMAS is compatible with the entire range of existing Citrix networking products, dramatically lowering the barrier to adopt this new product. IT administrators can manage and monitor Citrix application networking products including NetScaler MPX, NetScaler VPX, NetScaler Gateway, NetScaler SDX, NetScaler CPX, NetScaler SD-WAN, and ByteMobile Traffic Director.
There is so much new here that it makes sense to take a quick tour of all the big changes. And let’s jump right into some of the details.
On-Demand instantiation of devices and template-driven configuration: NetScaler MAS provides a new Stylebook Engine, a method for composing configurations using agile IT practices. Stylebooks are created by developers or network operations teams using simple expressions to describe the structure of a NetScaler configuration. These Stylebooks are then used to dynamically instantiate new NetScalers, and once created, all functions, management, and analytics are automatically created.
“Mode 2” application architecture featuring NMAS and NetScaler CPX
Automated configuration through service discovery: With the advent of OpenStack and Container-based architectures, applications and infrastructure can be automatically deployed and configured and discovered. NMAS is now fully integrated with all the leading Container orchestration and service discovery platforms, including Docker and Mesosphere, as well as the Mirantis and RedHat OpenStack distributions. This allows the entire infrastructure to be automatically configured and dynamically react to any changes.
Hybrid cloud management: NMAS is fully integrated with multiple clouds and can seamlessly manage a distributed cluster of elements distributed across multiple locations. This includes all the top IaaS clouds including Amazon (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.
End-To-End Analytics: NetScaler’s can terminate SSL traffic so it gives it a unique vantage point from which to collect and analyze traffic flowing through to/from the users and applications. With NMAS, we are introducing a new feature called LogStream that dramatically increases the rate and volume of data collection.
This additional data collection unlocks a whole new set of analytics, such as the ability to model traffic and detect “outlier” traffic from normal traffic, enabling the system to proactively alert when there are security issues or problems detected.
Value To Traditional Applications And Datacenters
Many customers have and will continue to run traditional datacenters with traditional applications – and NMAS has a number of features that can add tremendous value through automation to these datacenters. This gives customers both time to simultaneously run Mode 1 and Mode 2 styles of applications simultaneously, without having to fully transition from one to the other or favor a particular style of infrastructure for now.
Automation features include Fleet-wide management capabilities – configuration, SSL certificate management, automated upgrades. In addition, other features such as app-centric views allowing multiple groups to create their own restricted “views” into the infrastructure allows for broad participation in the management and operation of the system.
A Call To Action!
We’re excited to offer NMAS to our customers to enable their next-generation of infrastructure without compromising their existing investment in applications and infrastructure – a “bridge to the future” enabling bi-modal IT. NMAS is our future-proofed offering to our customers, enabling customers to experiment or deploy “Mode 2” and Container-based architectures while giving customers the ability to manage and scale their “Mode 1” infrastructure in a similar fashion. In the case where “Mode 2” infrastructure is not a priority but hybrid-cloud is an important consideration, NMAS enables existing networking infrastructure to be managed uniformly across multiple public and private clouds.
We encourage you to reach out to your Citrix sales team representatives to learn more about NMAS. We’re confident you will be as excited about the new functionality in this product as we are.