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June 23, 2023 | Cyber security / General / Infrastructure management

The secrets of NetScaler. What is Citrix NetScaler?

Citrix NetScaler is an Application Delivery Controller (ADC) software by Cloud Software Group, enhancing application access in various network environments. Thanks to its advanced features and scalability, NetScaler has become a key tool supporting the growing demands for application performance and security in a dynamically changing digital world.

Data collected by the National Institute of Standards & Technology indicates that as much as 92% of vulnerabilities pertain to applications, not networks. This is precisely why the experts at Cloud Software Group offer a single tool that comprehensively deals with many tasks and threats related to applications. In this article, we will explain what NetScaler is capable of and how it compares to a competitive product – F5.

Hawatel has been implementing Citrix products for many years. If you would like to read one of our case studies, click here!

NetScaler logo


The versatility of NetScaler

NetScaler is a comprehensive solution that combines many functions in one device. It can serve as a load balancer, application accelerator, protection against DDoS attacks, VPN, web application firewall, and remote access controller.

Versatility and reliability are the reasons why NetScaler is often chosen by major American corporations listed in the Fortune 500, among others. In Poland, NetScaler operates in the telecommunications, banking, and e-commerce sectors.

Functionalities of Citrix NetScaler

NetScaler, the Leading ADC

As a fully equipped application delivery controller, NetScaler possesses the necessary functionalities to ensure effective application delivery and uninterrupted accessibility. NetScaler offers the broadest choice and flexibility with a wide range of factors that meet diverse customer deployment needs. NetScaler provides operational consistency (single code-base), regardless of the application's deployment location—whether in an on-premises, hosted, or cloud environment—and facilitates migration between environments.


Laptop applications, border

Application security

NetScaler provides advanced application security features such as Web Application Firewall (WAF), protection against DDoS attacks (Distributed Denial of Service), content filtering, access control, user authentication, data encryption, SSL inspection, and many other application security mechanisms.

Moreover, analytical firms like Forrester, Frost and Sullivan, and GigaOm recognize NetScaler as a leader in application security. This is due to its ability to deliver security benefits and unparalleled WAF performance at line speed. As a consolidated platform for application delivery and security, NetScaler ensures comprehensive protection with WAF, bot management, and API security across all types of application architectures and deployment scenarios.

Load balancing

NetScaler provides traffic load balancing by distributing client requests to multiple application servers. This ensures scalability, performance, and application availability.

Application optimization

NetScaler offers many application optimization features such as data compression, buffering, caching, acceleration of network protocols (e.g., TCP), which help enhance performance, reduce response times, and increase application throughput.

Remote access control

NetScaler enables secure remote access to applications and network resources through features like Virtual Private Networks (VPN), multi-factor authentication, SSL tunneling, and access to applications from anywhere and any device.

Traffic encryption and forwarding

NetScaler supports encryption and forwarding of network traffic, enabling secure connections, handling protocols like SSL/TLS, and ensuring trusted and efficient traffic forwarding.

Monitoring and management

NetScaler provides tools for monitoring application performance, collecting statistics, generating reports, and allows centralized configuration management and control over NetScaler devices in the environment.

Citrix NetScaler vs. F5




Both NetScaler and F5 offer numerous features, but some functionalities of NetScaler are not available in the standard version of F5.

These include, among others:

  • Virtual applications and desktops: NetScaler provides features for delivering virtual applications and desktops that are integrated with other Citrix products (Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops). This integration allows for efficient and scalable deployment of virtual applications and desktops.
  • Application layer traffic forwarding: NetScaler offers advanced application layer traffic forwarding capabilities. These capabilities include forwarding requests based on content or user session. This enables more precise traffic routing and customization of application handling to individual needs.
  • Contextual access control: NetScaler offers context-based access control features such as multi-factor authentication and identity management that can take additional information into account, such as risk level or device status, when making access decisions.
  • Protocol and standards support: NetScaler has an extensive range of supported protocols and standards, including the ICA protocol for Citrix virtual applications, SPDY protocol for web application acceleration, WebSocket protocol, IPv6 support, and many others.

Architecture and scalability


NetScaler has an architecture based on its own operating system (Citrix NetScaler OS) and is available in hardware or virtual form. It can scale to handle large traffic loads and has the ability to expand its capabilities through the addition of modules.

F5 has an architecture based on the BIG-IP operating system and is available in hardware or virtual form. It also offers scalability and flexibility, and its solutions can be expanded by adding modules.


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Integration and ecosystem

NetScaler is part of the Citrix ecosystem and is tightly integrated with Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops. It also offers integration with various tools and technologies from other providers.

F5 has a broad partner ecosystem and is often used in conjunction with other networking and data center products and solutions. It also has strong integration capabilities with various technologies and tools.

NetScaler, as an advanced application delivery controller (ADC), offers a wide range of functionalities that support organizations in delivering applications with optimal performance, security, and availability. From load balancing to application optimization, remote access control, and application security, NetScaler provides tools that help organizations succeed in the digital world.


Contact us to learn more about how NetScaler can enhance the performance of your applications!

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