NetScaler Scores in Content Switch Test
The tests demonstrate that the performance of this type of equipment has come on by leaps and bounds in the past year or so. Full details are in the report on Light Testing: Content Switch Test.
Three vendors -- Extreme Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: EXTR), NetScaler Inc., and WinCom Systems Inc. -- submitted products for the tests, which were conducted by the European Advanced Networking Test Center AG (EANTC) using the Ixia 1600T performance analyzer, running the IxWeb content switch test suite from Ixia (Nasdaq: XXIA). In the tests, all three vendors' products handled massive volumes of simultaneous HTTP sessions and TCP connections. They also demonstrated high resilience to distributed denial of service (DDOS) attacks and packed a big punch on secure sockets layer (SSL) performance.
"While the first 'Web switches' on the market a few years ago were basically enhanced Layer 4 (TCP port) switches, these systems are highly specialized, focusing on all aspects of the complex science of HTTP switching," writes Carsten Rossenhövel, EANTC's managing director, research and manufacturer testing, in the test report. All three switches in the test "are ready for the busiest (and most attacked…) Web servers, with enough reserves for the foreseeable future," Rossenhövel adds.
This is no mean feat, bearing in mind that content switches have to identify applications in individual sessions and then switch them. Their ability to do this on a massive scale, handling hundreds of thousands of HTTP sessions at the same time, lies behind hopes that they'll help carriers roll out lucrative new secure Internet services to business users. It also lies behind hopes that content switches will enable carriers to build bigger, more efficient data centers.
In the Light Reading test, content switches were subjected to three groups of performance tests: HTTP performance (session rate and capacity, latency and load balancing), TCP performance (connection rate and capacity), and security (SSL performance and resilience to DDOS attacks). In addition, the price and feature set of each switch was compared.
A marking system was used that enabled Light Reading and EANTC to demonstrate the way in which overall scores were calculated for a typical content switch application.
NetScaler got the highest overall score: 4.3 out of a possible 5. It got the best average mark for each group of tests, although it didn't come out on top in every individual test. Its most remarkable results were handling close to 2.4 million simultaneous HTTP sessions or TCP connections -- and having a list price that's half that of Extreme's and WinCom's.
Extreme and WinCom tied for second place, each getting an overall score of 3.5 out of 5. Extreme did well, but not exceptionally well, in all tests. WinCom had the best switching rate (both HTTP and TCP), but didn't do so well on latency and capacity tests. This is largely because its switch is based on a different architectural concept, one that aims to use the Internet itself as a TCP connection buffer.
The tests were commissioned and paid for entirely by Light Reading, ensuring the integrity of the results (see Testing Testing).
— Peter Heywood, Founding Editor, Light Reading