Citrix NetScaler ADC Review

Has the ability to turn on features without owning a license to test them out and use for a while


What is our primary use case?

From a NetScaler perspective, in terms of LTM, not GSLB, NetScasler has performed very well. In comparison to F5, it holds its own.

How has it helped my organization?

For some of my deployments, NetScaler has been strictly a replacement to get something new in. It was cheaper than F5. We took a chance on it. The return on investment is the fact that we spent less money on it. It does do its job and it holds well against F5.

What is most valuable?

I can turn on features without actually owning a license. I can test them out, I can use them for a while, and then I can be licensed up. That's awesome. I don't have to have a license immediately before I can start to deploy things rapidly, rapid deployment is a plus.

When I compare it to F5 from a hardware or software perspective, they both have their glitches. From a software perspective, either one is not without code bugs.

What needs improvement?

From an SDX perspective, having the ability to spin up a VPX, the way we spin up our regular features, quickly and have a 60-day trial while we spin up VPXs will give us the opportunity to do more proof of concept work quickly without having to buy the license and download the VPX. A feature like this would be helpful. 

I would also like to have video tutorials so that when you click the help link, you have the option to go to the Citrix forum and get information and help from other people and other users. Something that points you out to a tutorial video link that is a general overview. 

I liked the fact that is NetScaler out-of-the-box is intuitive. You can catch on fairly quickly. Especially when you're doing an advanced alert. You cannot do a re-direct quickly without going through some documentation and if nobody's done it before, they don't know what you're talking about. That is when a help link would be useful that could direct you to the right tutorial video and then it could point you directly after that video to further direction and explanation. Straight to the meat of things. Something like a quick video tip tutorial would be great. Whereas if you're an F5 customer, you don't get something like this and you do have DevCentral that you can go to get information, but it requires you to read through many documents and comb through trying to configure something that is complex. They should deliver the information quickly to end users to make it even faster and more efficient to deliver our own applications and services to customers.

Video files can be large, they don't necessarily have to be on the box itself, but even through a link that quickly goes to their website or YouTube, whatever platform, could work. 

I would like to see them make it easier to do some of the more complex things. For example, a web re-direct requires two pieces to it. You have two ports and when people want to go to a web page, they just type in the webpage that on the backend will redirect them to a secure link. The initial setup of that is cumbersome because you have to do it twice. There are things that can be replicated. The IP address, for example, is the same. This change would go a long way. Don't make me do it twice and don't make me have to read tons of documentation to figure out how to do it. Ease of configuration for some of the more complex processes would be a good improvement. 

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It has high stability. I deployed these in hospitals where lives matter. The contention was whether or not to go with F5 because it's the leader in the marketplace and they have 70% of the market shares. Even though NetScaler is big, it still doesn't hold the fair market share. NetScaler is the underdog but it is very stable. I've seen it in hospital environments where lives matter, it's held its own, it does what it says it's going to do and it does it well. It's certainly a top contender, if not an equal contender with its counterpart, F5. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability is very impressive. The way it works is that you can collapse everything on to a couple of platforms, small, medium, and large. The small one is obviously an initial buy-in. The mid one is fairly powerful and is bigger than an 8920. You are limited on the hardware. You get 64 and you get 32 out of the box, which is what you paid for but you can license up the 64. On the other platform, you can start off at 32 with the initial buy-in and then license up from there for a max of around 256 gig. The way they have it is that you are locked in from a hardware perspective.

How are customer service and technical support?

Their technical support is decent. It could use some improvement. Help desks and technical support are good but you can tell that there's been turnover. We'll have complex issues that we're trying to work through and we would like somebody who's more experienced and not somebody who had just gone through training. Employee retention on the help desk would go a long way. 

If you previously used a different solution, which one did you use and why did you switch?

NetScaler does the same thing as an F5 and it's cheaper.

How was the initial setup?

There was some trepidation regarding the initial setup because it's new equipment and nobody has had training for it. We were able to figure it out and stand it up. It took some reading and some calls to tech support, but they were helpful when we were first setting it up.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

There are the regular license costs and you also have to pay for licenses if you want more DPXs or whatever. A standard DPX is fairly cheap. It's around $7,000. 

What other advice do I have?

I would rate it an eight out of ten because nobody is a ten. I would give it a nine if it was a little easier to pick up. Out of the box it's easy. Anybody who's an engineer can usually pick it up or if they've had previous load balancing experience, it's easy. Obviously, not everybody has that kind of experience. 

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Reseller.
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