Citrix NetScaler adds Web 2.0 Push to cut data centre costs

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Citrix Systems Inc. has added new technology to its NetScaler Web application delivery appliance designed to alleviate Web servers of the burden placed on them by resource-hungry Web 2.0 applications.

The Web 2.0 Push technology works by pushing data directly to a large number of Web 2.0 application users simultaneously, instead of relying on one-to-one user connections to back-end servers for extended periods of time.

Greg Smith, director of marketing for Citrix NetScaler product line with Citrix Systems, said the newly integrated feature is “perhaps the most dramatic enhancement in that area that we’ve made in many years.”

Web 2.0 applications are proliferating across businesses for uses like online banking, video and news feeds, and monitoring consoles for electric grids, for instance. There’s a strong shift in how applications are designed in that they typically provide and support much greater levels of user interactivity, and real-time collaboration and data, said Smith. “No longer are Web applications simply about requesting a static Web page with some product information, it’s much more about interacting with the application and other users,” he said.

According to Citrix, the Web 2.0 Push technology will reduce server costs by five to 10 times by streamlining the Web 2.0 process. The technology also enables “publish-and-subscribe” semantics and supports the proactive push of data from the server to the client, thereby freeing up backend servers from inefficient management tasks, because, said Smith, “simply setting up and managing those connections is quite expensive on the servers.”

While some customers may choose to entirely outsource their data centre infrastructure in an effort to offload the responsibility, Smith said a hosted Web 2.0 application that is taxing on the provider’s infrastructure “ultimately will get billed back to (the customer).”

The offering is targeted at businesses that run Web-facing applications, as well as those infrastructure service providers who might host Web 2.0 applications.

Lucinda Borovick, director of data centre networks at Framingham, Mass.-based research firm IDC Ltd., said the integrated Web 2.0 Push feature demonstrates how Citrix is innovating and bringing value to customers by supporting additional application traffic patterns ahead of its competitors. “Citrix is furthering the market with this technology,” said Borovick.

Citrix is giving some attention to the issue of server sprawl in relation to Web 2.0 applications and, besides Monday’s announcement, there are other technologies in the pipeline, said Smith. For instance, dynamic provisioning, or the ability for businesses to design their infrastructures in such a way as to avoid over-provisioning or deploying a larger number of servers in the event of a worst case scenario. Instead, said Smith, businesses can “design a typical application load and use Citrix solutions … to automatically increase capacity of the infrastructure on an as-needed basis.”

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