As a world leader in fleet management and driver mobility, LeasePlan manages more than 1.7 million vehicles from over 110 branch offices across 32 countries.
LeasePlan uses Citrix Virtual Apps and Desktops to deliver virtual desktops and hundreds of applications to its branch locations, which rely on a network powered by Citrix.
Global IT Operations Manager Ronan Murray says, “NetScaler is the Swiss Army knife of our data center. We use most of the functions, from WAF to SSL Caching to load balancing.”
Everything is managed from LeasePlan’s data centers in Ireland, and branches are connected to the center with dedicated multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) lines.
“MPLS is a relatively old technology now, meaning it’s mature, and it’s safe,” Murray explains. “But it’s also expensive, and as we need failover, our backup circuits are only used when the primary link fails. We spend several million Euros a year on our global network. Agility was also an issue, activating new circuits can take months and we need new locations stood up in days and weeks. We need to be able to move at the speed of our business, which is accelerating all the time.”
Internet connections for branches were routed over the MPLS lines and through LeasePlan’s Dublin data centers. However, as Murray says, “with the increased demand for cloud services, having local ‘breakout’ connections is more and more important. People need to be closer to their SaaS services to get the best possible user experience, backhauling internet traffic through our data centres is sub-optimal for our users.”
Bandwidth for video, Skype, and other rich content was an issue, as were availability, reliability, and latency. LeasePlan worked with Platinum Citrix Solution Advisor and Citrix Service Provider Zinopy to deploy Citrix SD-WAN across the company’s global network. “We’re achieving significant cost savings where we displace MPLS”
“We chose Citrix SD-WAN because we had a really positive proof of concept experience,” Murray says. “The Citrix product set is really, really good. Citrix SD-WAN is incredibly clever in the way that it moves traffic around, the way it monitors issues on the network, and is able to pass traffic between different circuits depending on variations within those circuits.”
Most branches now have internet connections from local ISPs. SD-WAN manages traffic across internet (broadband, ADSL, and even 4G) and in some cases a smaller MPLS link. As a result, branches have faster, more reliable connectivity, and with SD-WAN optimizing traffic, LeasePlan’s WAN costs have reduced dramatically.
“As we move towards a cloud-based workspace environment, and as we pivot our branches from pointing to the data center to pointing to cloud, we’ll need our infrastructure to travel with us,” Murray says.
“Many CIOs are looking at a cloud-first strategy, but they’re not thinking about how their infrastructure is going to take them there. They think, ‘we’ve got a big internet pipe; we’ll be fine.’ But, it’s not as simple as that, especially with a branch environment. LeasePlan has been forward thinking in this regard and SD-WAN is a great solution for organisations like ours.”
With SD-WAN, LeasePlan can provide secure local internet breakout for its branches so they can access cloud applications using a local connection and connect directly to the data center for hosted applications.
“The biggest benefit that SD-WAN has brought LeasePlan is not the savings, the extra bandwidth, and the other features—it’s the ability to pivot very simply to the cloud,” Murray says.
“When we need data from the data center, we go there. When we need data from the cloud, we go direct to cloud. We’re not hair-pinning or backhauling data through the data center anymore, and that gives a much better user experience, a much more efficient model for IT, and a much more efficient model for the end users.”
Using SD-WAN, IT can manage traffic at a very granular level, prioritizing individual applications over particular circuits. The result is high availability and low latency for users. Murray gives an example:
“When we went live with SD-WAN in Norway, the internet circuit wasn't ready, so we just went live purely with a 4G SIM card in the back of the device. We got 50 meg down and 10 meg up, and the users there were ecstatic. They are getting bandwidth, performance, and availability like they haven’t seen before—from a SIM card! That’s pretty incredible.”
“A secure tunnel is created acroos every circuit and even every queue for MPLS,” Murray says. “Overall, that’s more secure than MPLS alone.”
With Citrix SD-WAN, Murray has improved performance for staff at LeasePlan’s branch locations, while dramatically reducing operations costs and enabling the business’s transition to the cloud.
“We’re pivoting really quickly towards the cloud, and with Citrix SD-WAN, our IT infrastructure is now ahead of our strategy,” Murray says.
Citrix (NASDAQ:CTXS) is leading the transition to software-defining the workplace, uniting virtualization, mobility management, networking and SaaS solutions to enable new ways for businesses and people to work better. Citrix solutions power business mobility through secure, mobile workspaces that provide people with instant access to apps, desktops, data and communications on any device, over any network and cloud. With annual revenue in 2014 of $3.14 billion, Citrix solutions are in use at more than 330,000 organizations and by over 100 million users globally. Learn more at www.citrix.com.
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