Product Documentation

HTTP Compression

May 20, 2015

For websites with compressible content, the NetScaler HTTP compression feature implements lossless compression to alleviate latency, long download times, and other network-performance problems by compressing the HTTP responses sent from servers to compression-aware browsers. You can improve server performance by offloading the computationally intensive compression task from your servers to the NetScaler appliance.

The following table describes the capabilities of the HTTP compression feature:



Compression Ratio

Compression ratio depends on the types of files in the responses, but is always significant, noticeably reducing amount of data transmitted over the network.

Browser Awareness

NetScaler serves compressed data to compression aware browsers only, reducing the transaction time between the client and the server. Most modern web browsers support HTTP compression.

Compression blocking

You can define content filters to selectively block compression by applying built-in actions.

Compression Caching

With the integrated caching feature enabled, subsequent requests for the same content are served from the local cache, reducing the number of round trips to the server and improving transaction times.

HTTPS Support

Compression is particularly useful on SSL connections, because it reduces the amount of content that has to be encrypted, either on the server or by the NetScaler appliance, and decrypted by the client.

Intelligent Response Filtering

The NetScaler compression engine intelligently filters server responses on the basis of defined compression parameters. For example, the compression engine detects zero-content-length responses and compressed responses and does not compress them. The detection of compressed responses enables origin sites to use server-based compression in conjunction with the NetScaler compression feature.

Compression Switching

The NetScaler appliance transparently directs requests from compression aware clients to compression capable servers, so that responses to those clients are compressed, and responses to other clients are not delayed by compression processing.

How Compression Works

A NetScaler ADC can compress both static and dynamically generated data. It applies the GZIP or the DEFLATE compression algorithm to remove extraneous and repetitive information from the server responses and represent the original information in a more compact and efficient format. This compressed data is sent to the client's browser and uncompressed as determined by the browser's supported algorithm or algorithms (GZIP or DEFLATE).

NetScaler compression treats static and dynamic content differently.

  • Static files are compressed only once, and a compressed copy is stored in local memory. Subsequent client requests for cached files are serviced from that memory.
  • Dynamic pages are dynamically created each time a client requests them.

When a client sends a request to the server:

  1. The client request arrives at the NetScaler ADC. The ADC examines the headers and stores information about what kind of compression, if any, the browser supports.
  2. The ADC forwards the request to the server and receives the response.
  3. The NetScaler compression engine examines the server response for compressibility by matching it against policies.
  4. If the response matches a policy associated with a compression action, and the client browser supports a compression algorithm specified by the action, the NetScaler ADC applies the algorithm and sends the compressed response to the client browser.
  5. The client applies the supported compression algorithm to decompress the response.