SSL offload and acceleration

A NetScaler appliance configured for SSL acceleration transparently accelerates SSL transactions by offloading SSL processing from the server. To configure SSL offloading, you configure a virtual server to intercept and process SSL transactions, and send the decrypted traffic to the server (unless you configure end-to-end encryption, in which case the traffic is re-encrypted). Upon receiving the response from the server, the appliance completes the secure transaction with the client. From the client’s perspective, the transaction seems to be directly with the server. A NetScaler configured for SSL acceleration also performs other configured functions, such as load balancing.

Configuring SSL offloading requires an SSL certificate and key pair, which you must obtain if you do not already have an SSL certificate. Other SSL-related tasks that you might need to perform include managing certificates, managing certificate revocation lists, configuring client authentication, and managing SSL actions and policies.

A non-FIPS NetScaler appliance stores the server’s private key on the hard disk. On a FIPS appliance, the key is stored in a cryptographic module known as a hardware security module (HSM). Only the MPX 9700/10500/12500/15500 appliances support a FIPS card, so other NetScaler models cannot be equipped with an HSM.

Beginning with release 10.5, build 52.1115.e, all NetScaler appliances that do not support a FIPS card (including virtual appliances) support the Thales nShield® Connect external HSM. (MPX 9700/10500/12500/15500 appliances do not support an external HSM.)

Note: FIPS-related options for some of the SSL configuration procedures described in this document are specific to a FIPS-enabled NetScaler appliance.

SSL offload and acceleration

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