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NetScaler Aims to Fend Off Competitors with Features.

By Kevin Murphy

NetScaler Inc is ramping up the feature set in its internet application acceleration and security devices in an attempt to head off increased competition from its bigger, better-known competitors.

Updates to its 9000 Series of appliances, currently scheduled to be delivered in July, will improve the compression, caching, attack prevention and policy enforcement features, according to VP of worldwide marketing Mark Weiner.

A key new feature will be the ability for the "AppExpert" feature to dig into the payload of application traffic and enforce policy (such as whether to compress) based on the contents. Previously, the software only looked at the message header.

The AppCache and AppCompress components have been reworked, Weiner said, to support more than just static HTTP traffic. He said the compression features will be able to compress basically any TCP-based application traffic.

With the compression, the software will use a trick learned from the SSL VPN space. The devices will deliver ActiveX applets to extranet desktops, which will proxy for TCP traffic and compress it using a variation of the Gzip compression method.

With AppCache, dynamic content created in response to HTTP POST messages is now supported, meaning more stuff is cached and load is taken off not just the web servers, but also the application and database servers, Weiner said.

A new AppDefense feature sees the 9000 Series start to cross over with application attack prevention products. There are new protections against HTML form attacks and buffer overflow attacks, Weiner said.

All this is being introduced because the various security, switch and acceleration markets are converging and NetScaler is aware that it is facing increasing competition from bigger companies with higher profiles and more marketing clout.

Weiner claims NetScaler's products could do two years ago what others in the market, such as F5 Networks Inc with its "Buffalo Jump" platform, plan to do later this year. He said: "Where they're going is where we were in 2002."

"In 2002 we were a small company at a time when people were not looking to buy this type of thing, they were saying how can we reduce our costs. As a small company we did not have the capacity to define the market," he said.

He also named Cisco, Foundry and Nortel as competitors looking at boosting their products in this space. "Being a small company, we need to be 24 months ahead of those folks, or we do start having something to worry about," Weiner said.

While NetScaler is talking about these features today, there's another three months before they hit the market. F5 is expected to unveil the next version of its Big-IP platform, codenamed "Buffalo Jump", about the same time.
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Publication:Computergram International
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 4, 2004
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