Citrix announced today that its NetScaler appliance no longer has to have a physical presence in your data center with the release of a virtual version, NetScaler VPX.

NetScaler started as a load balancer but it now also accelerates web applications performance and provides security for them. Morgan Gerhart, senior manager of product marketing at Citrix, said the NetScaler appliance is in use by eight of the 10 biggest websites.

Gerhart said that in the past, devices in the same class as NetScaler were fairly expensive, limiting the device to bigger companies. By going virtual, Citrix can offer NetScaler VMs for $2,000 to $30,000, not to mention a free limited version.

As a virtual appliance, companies can better incorporate NetScaler functions into their development processes by giving access to NetScaler throughout the development process, instead of only on live systems. Gerhart said this could help eliminate common bugs that result from changes in the environment.

Another advantage of a virtual appliance is that its functions can be incorporated into cloud services. Citrix's release notes that two cloud services providers—SoftLayer and Joyent—already offer NetScaler to their customers, and more are expected to add it soon. So even small businesses and temporary sites can benefit from NetScaler, if they use cloud services.

NetScaler VPX runs on standard X86 hardware. For now it runs on Citrix XenServer, but versions for VMware ESX and Microsoft Hyper-V are expected within a quarter or two. See the NetScaler VPX site for more information.

Related Reading:

Check out hundreds more useful Q&As like this in John Savill's FAQ for Windows. Also, watch instructional videos made by John at ITTV.net.