Exinda Review

We are better able to control and prioritize what individuals and groups of users are doing

What is our primary use case?

We use Exinda to control the bandwidth to different constituents on campus. 

How has it helped my organization?

We are better able to control what individuals and different people on campus are doing. We can prioritize certain things to students, certain things to faculty, and certain things to staff, by application. Similarly, we can slow down and give less of a priority to things that aren't important to certain groups. For example, staff doesn't need to be able to watch Netflix in high-definition while they're working, but students might, because the college is their home. The ability to do that was the reason that we put it in.

We use the solution's dashboard to see what's happening in our network. We look at it every day, but we don't monitor it consistently unless we think there's an issue. But it does play a role in our ability to make decisions related to what we see. One of the great things for us is that the solution works, and it works whether you're looking at it or not. For us, the fact that it keeps going and does everything that we need it to do, while we only check on it once a day, is great.

Particularly with COVID, we were concerned about what the bandwidth use was going to be like and whether we were going to be able to handle the change and what it would mean to have people working remotely. And when we came back to classes in the fall, we were concerned about whether were we going to be able to have the bandwidth if people here on campus were going to be holding a class that needed to have a virtual component. We used the Exinda to watch that and monitor it, and ultimately show that we were fine. We changed some of the priorities in the Exinda on traffic for certain things, like Zoom, and it made the difference for us.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is the ability to manage the traffic at the application layer. It makes things a lot easier. We're not digging for port numbers and IP addresses and different services. We're able to say, "We need to make sure that Zoom is a priority for faculty." It makes us far more responsive in our ability to do things and speed up the process. We're a very small shop, so having something that's straightforward and easy to use is a big help.

The fact that we are more responsive is a big thing for us because, with the packet shaping solution we used to have, it took a lot of work to do anything. This is far more straightforward and easy to do.

It gives you the visibility into the things that you're doing, and you get suggestions as well. That's helpful. Every time there's a shift in what the population is doing, the Exinda recommends, "Hey, we're seeing a lot of Dropbox traffic. You don't have a rule for that. You should probably think about doing that." I also use it to watch the traffic on the internet. We have a few options for doing that, but one of the easiest is through the Exinda dashboard and the real-time monitoring.

One of the nice things that Exinda has enabled us to do is to set up the monitoring of certain things. We can monitor the response to our webpage. We can also monitor our different systems—some are cloud-based, some are here—and create service levels for monitoring so that we ensure that critical systems are up, running, and responding appropriately. 

Everybody is moving everything to the cloud. When they wanted to move our website from on-prem to the cloud, in the initial testing people were saying, "Well, it's a little slower," and I said, "Well, of course it's slower, because when you're on campus, you're not leaving to go to the internet to get to the webpage." I was actually able to show metrics of why that was and how. We still monitor that. It didn't ultimately change anybody's mind, but at least we were able to say, "You can't have the same level of service from the cloud that you get on-prem."

What needs improvement?

The updating of applications that the system knows about could be a little quicker. For example, Zoom had been out for a while, but it took a while for it to show up as an application that Exinda could natively handle. We had to write some things in order to handle Zoom, initially.

For how long have I used the solution?

I have been using Exinda for almost five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We haven't had any problems. 

We've had a couple of issues that were really not impacting the network at all, but they impacted the way we used the device. We got a replacement and it was fine. Recently, we upgraded our internet pipes and didn't even give another thought to looking for a different solution. We just upgraded to new devices.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

We had to change hardware because we changed our bandwidth, but I'm not sure that scalability is something I would think of when I think of the Exinda product, because you have to change it.

We have two 1-Gb internet pipes that we aggregate and then send through the Exinda. We normally service just over 3,000 people on campus, so we're pretty small. Right now, we are well below that with COVID. And normally, we see our traffic pretty close to utilized, but we're not even utilizing half our bandwidth at this point due to COVID.

How are customer service and technical support?

GFI's technical support for this solution could be better. It's hard to find information about Exinda, directly. It seems like it's not a priority for them.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

We used to use traditional packet shapers, and when we decided to replace that approach, we went with this solution which, rather than packet shaping, does more application shaping.

How was the initial setup?

The initial setup was pretty straightforward. We worked on it for about a day.

What about the implementation team?

It was implemented by the vendor that sold it to us, Annese; they have since been acquired by ConvergeOne. Our experience with the vendor was good. They gathered the information on what we were taking out and what was important to us. That implementation plan came through the statement of work through the vendor.

I'm the only person responsible for the administration of Exinda in our organization.

What was our ROI?

We have seen ROI with Exinda in that it is better than what we were using and it is certainly easier to manage. It impacts my time much less than the old solution and it gives me the visibility that I need into certain things. In terms of time saved, while this area is not a big part of my job, I'm the only one who does it. With Exinda I probably spend half the time that I would have on the old solution if I need to implement a rule change.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The pricing is on par with the other solutions.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We did some shopping around and we liked how Exinda handled things at the application layer, rather than packet-shaping. 

We looked at a newer version of what we were already using at that time. We wound up going through the reseller and talking with them about solutions. They recommended this and that's where we wound up.

What other advice do I have?

Go through the training. The training time that I spent at Exinda was well worth it. I got a lot of insight from that.

Exinda also allows you to focus on application performance rather than just throttling traffic and bandwidth, although that's not something that we do. There are a lot of things that we could do with the stuff that we have, but we just don't have the shop to be able to monitor a lot of the things too closely. If we have a problem, we can go and look at stuff. We have things set up so that we can monitor some of these applications and some of the SLAs that we've set up. For example, we can watch the response time for the student information system, particularly, to make sure that it's always available to faculty and students.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?


Which version of this solution are you currently using?

**Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor.
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