With enterprise cloud solutions like Azure, AWS, and hybrid cloud data centres becoming the norm today, it is crucial to provide a secure enterprise application-centric network, both on-premise and in the cloud.
In this blog post, I’ll discuss some of the issues that companies face, and how Citrix NetScaler SD-WAN can help you overcome them.
Key business challenges driving SD-WAN adoption in the enterprise today include:
Poor user experience: Most organisations rely on secure real-time communications like voice, video conferencing, Skype for Business and cloud-based services, but these generally need consistent network quality (with low packet loss and jitter) to gain wider user adoption. Other applications, such as video-on-demand, can also place heavy demands on your expensive bandwidth.
Centralised services: Many enterprises are adopting virtualization solutions like Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop to provide centralised apps and desktops for improved operations and security. This means the branch networks need to be applications-aware for fine-tuned quality of service, and resilient to support this style of working.
Cost: MPLS networks incur expensive recurring charges, and depending on availability and geography can take months to provision. Unfortunately, when you try and use cheaper or more readily available alternatives such as a business class internet, reliability and network quality can suffer, and affect the user experience.
Complexity: Most networks are built around branch routers that are fragile and complex to manage. When you want to roll out a network-wide change, you need to rely on having network experts or service providers to tweak configurations across all devices and hope nothing breaks.
Citrix NetScaler SD-WAN is designed to ensure that IT can deliver and manage a secure, reliable, cost-effective network, and ensure an enhanced user experience – even to branch sites or mobile users with limited bandwidth or high latency.
The diagram below shows how enterprises can deploy NetScaler SD-WAN in the branch, data centre and enterprise cloud to create a virtualized network. This provides a resilient, secure, application-optimised architecture, as well as integrating with cloud security providers for secure internet breakout.
Citrix NetScaler SD-WAN key benefits
- Secure data across the enterprise: In a distributed enterprise, data must be secure as it moves from data centres to the cloud and to the branch. NetScaler SD-WAN encrypts data using 256-bit AES or FIPS compliant IP-SEC encryption any time it leaves the enterprise boundary, optionally encrypting even on private networks. Optional features such as rotating keys, trailing checksums and splitting a flow on multiple links protect company data from being interpreted or modified. And security is inherent in the solution, without the need for complex configurations or additional hardware.
- Increase the resiliency of critical applications: NetScaler SD-WAN can logically bind multiple MPLS, broadband and wireless network links into a single virtual WAN, and then continuously measure and monitor each link for loss, latency, jitter and congestion. Enterprise-critical applications can always be routed across the links with the fastest transit time. Traffic from high bandwidth applications can be balanced across multiple links simultaneously to provide the highest performance and an optimal user experience. And real-time application traffic can be duplicated to guarantee no loss and the lowest latency.If network problems occur, NetScaler SD-WAN detects a link outage or performance degradation after just two or three packets, seamlessly moving application traffic to an alternate link. In most cases, outages are mitigated without users noticing, even with virtual desktops and latency- sensitive applications like voice.
- Accelerate traditional enterprise applications: NetScaler SD-WAN accelerates traditional enterprise applications such as Microsoft® SharePoint®, network file servers (CIFS and NFS), Microsoft Exchange®, Microsoft 365® and web applications. With NetScaler SD-WAN, branch-office users experience faster printing, file downloads, video streaming and application start-up times, allowing them to get more done in less time. The NetScaler Client plugin extends application acceleration benefits to mobile users.
- Reduce WAN bandwidth and lower bandwidth costs: NetScaler SD-WAN reduces bandwidth consumption and optimises the use of existing capacity. This allows you to save on your ongoing bandwidth expenditures, to serve more users, and to reduce bandwidth consumption per desktop. NetScaler SD-WAN also reduces traffic for bandwidth-hungry applications such as video viewing, file transfers, software distribution, backups and enterprise data replication.And when more bandwidth is required, NetScaler SD-WAN allows broadband connections to deliver mission-critical application traffic with the same reliability and quality of service as costly MPLS networks. That means enterprises can add WAN capacity with inexpensive and flexible cable, DSL and 4G wireless connections, knowing that those connections will work seamlessly and reliably with an existing MPLS network.
- Gain insight into application performance with NetScaler MAS integration: To ensure great user experiences, enterprise IT must be able to quickly and easily identify the sources of problems in application delivery. Through its integration with Citrix NetScaler Management and Analytics System (NetScaler MAS), NetScaler SD-WAN monitors how well applications are being delivered to users in the branch. By leveraging AppFlow® data reporting formats, NetScaler SD-WAN can also export data to third party applications that provide network and application intelligence.Unique to NetScaler SD-WAN is the ability to drill down into the delivery performance of XenApp and XenDesktop via the HDX Insight™ module within NetScaler MAS. Beyond XenApp and XenDesktop, NetScaler SD-WAN can provide visibility for over 4500 different enterprise applications including Microsoft and SaaS apps.
- Access the cloud securely and reliably: A virtual NetScaler SD-WAN instance in the cloud aggregates multiple broadbands and wireless connections from the branch office to the cloud. This provides a secure and reliable connection to the cloud without the need to provision VPNs or add additional hardware and eliminates the requirement to backhaul Internet traffic through the data centre. Using the NetScaler SD-WAN for your cloud means that users’ access to SaaS applications and IaaS instances is as secure and reliable as connecting to a data centre.Amazon Web Services or Azure customers can use NetScaler SD-WAN in their respective clouds to aggregate a backup link and achieve a reliable connection to their data centres with automatic failover and no need to provision additional tunnels and implement complex routeing configurations.
- Simplify branch IT: By including a robust WAN Optimisation feature set with the network virtualization of SD-WAN, the NetScaler SD-WAN Enterprise solution delivers application acceleration, data reduction and network reliability and security in one appliance, physical or virtual. This minimises the number of appliances located at the branch and simplifies configuration and maintenance.Additionally, NetScaler SD-WAN with Windows Server, available in the WANOP Edition, natively integrates essential Windows services that must remain in the branch office, eliminating the need for dedicated servers and simplifying branch infrastructure. These integrations, coupled with the ability to automatically keep applications running in spite of network outages, lowers the amount of time needed for IT to support a branch.
- Flexible deployment options: NetScaler SD-WAN is available in several flexible editions so you can deploy just the features your organisation needs at each location.NetScaler SD-WAN Standard Edition – Includes the virtual WAN features that create a highly reliable network from multiple network links and ensure that each application takes the best path to achieve the highest application quality.NetScaler SD-WAN WANOp Edition – Includes application optimisation, data reduction and protocol control to optimise applications across the WAN.NetScaler SD-WAN Enterprise Edition – Includes both the virtual WAN and WAN optimisation features and is the best option to optimise user experience and achieve fully resilient applications.
I hope this overview has helped answer some of your questions around the benefits of Citrix’s NetScaler SD-WAN solution, and how it can enhance your users’ experience and reduce your overall wide area network costs.
For more information on how to architect, deploy and manage an application-centric network please contact us here at EEC Services and speak to one of our subject matter experts.