What is our primary use case?
Our primary use case is for stability and redundancy on connectivity from the branch offices to the company head office data centre. We have a head office and six remote branches. Most of the applications we deliver to the branches are through terminal services. This includes the EPR system, Microsoft Dynamics-AX. Everything is hosted on-prem. When a line between the branch office and the head office was down the branch could not operate. For most sales orders we have a 4 business hour turnaround time from order to delivery. So when a line is down we were losing sales. SD-WAN has prevented this almost completely.
How has it helped my organization?
Downtime for branch offices is now almost zero. We have 100% real-time visibility into all of our lines. MPLS links have been replaced with lower-cost links, saving a larger percentage of line costs. Overall, I see SD-WAN as a must. And the Citrix SD-WAN product has delivered on expectations and exceeded them. (With later firmware updates we now have good firewall capabilities in the product too.). In one specific notable case that was an outage at an upstream provider that would have taken our Cape Town office offline. And this was on the first of the month when we process bulk orders. The branch did not even know the line was down thanks to SD-WAN.
What is most valuable?
Lines run Active-Active. So we get better bandwidth usage i.e.we don't have backup lines sitting idle. We see the state of all lines all the time i.e. we don't have backup lines that are broken, that we only discover when a primary line fails. (This has happened even when we had an MPLS network). Downtimes on lines result in a loss of business. This is inevitable given that we run all applications through terminal applications from the head office data centers. In the 4 years running SD-WAN, we have only had 1 branch offline due to line failures where the backup line could not cope with the additional load.
What needs improvement?
The firewall reporting could be easier to use and filter. (It works well enough, but if I need to give an area for improvement, I think this would be it.). The built-in reporting on the product in this regard is not great. You can get a much more detailed reporting analysis using the SD-WAN center that is configurable with the product. If the additional reporting capabilities were bundled into the Master Controller Node, it would make the solution more appealing, and add better value from day one.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have been using Citrix SD-WAN for four years.
How are customer service and technical support?
We have used an external consultant, (Troye) to complete the set-up. Between Troye and Citrix South Africa we were in excellent hands from beginning to end. The requirements were drafted between KOLOK, Troye the partner and Citrix South Africa. We had very qualified consultants on site for the cut-over. It was a smooth migration. There were a few complex issues that came from how the ISP had configured routing in the MPLS. These issues were resolved by Citrix. We have subsequently removed all MPLS links.
What was our ROI?
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
If I was going to look at this project again now, I would investigate the option of using virtual appliances rather then physical appliances. I don't know enough about this option, but I think it would have some cost and give better DR options.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We looked at the Cisco product at the time. (Briefly). But we found the Citrix product to be better because it uses a packet by packet switching, where as the Cisco apparently switched session by session to the best line. This was some time back, and I have not looked at the Cisco product since.
What other advice do I have?
I used to stress about line failures. MPLS was not working for me. MPLS gave me no visibility into the line redundancy. And MPLS is very expensive. SD-WAN was an easy choice for me. Citrix has delivered.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?