All you need to know about the performance, ease-of-use, security and cost of Citrix SD-WAN vs. Silver Peak SD-WAN.

 

Whether you like it or not, movement to “The Cloud” is increasing. This has never been more evident than in recent times with “working from home” becoming the, “the new normal” and possibly the way of the future, at least for a lot of people.

We’ve heard that some very large companies with large, central city-based offices have started to re-assess the need for their centralised and very expensive work spaces. Maybe rather than shutting down their regionalised offices/buildings, they can re-purpose them; change or add to their functionality and by so doing reduce costs. They can provide employees with options for work locations – homes, local offices or regional offices – with the ethos that “Work is a thing you do not a place you go”. With this flexibility comes improved employee morale and, even if there isn’t visibly improved employee productivity, it has not been seen to reduce.

As these changes are being considered and increasingly implemented, what is happening to the traditional service delivery model and what are companies doing to support this way of working? Typically, we’re seeing a shift to support;

 

  • Moving to SaaS (e.g. Office 365)
  • Moving on-premise applications to the cloud (private or public)
  • Need to improve on-premise application access and performance (ERM, ERP, CAD, VoIP, VDI)
  • Improved security

These changes see a shift from traditional WAN architectures, with a need to simplify cloud connectivity and address the inevitable increase in network demands.

 

  • Increasing demand on the WAN requiring more capacity
  • WAN edge infrastructure refresh (edge routers, firewalls, WAN Op controllers)
  • Renewal of MPLS carrier contract – is this needed? is there an alternative?
  • Reliability – Automation of WAN configuration and path selection providing fault tolerance, resistance to congestion and failure

 

Software Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN) are being looked at as solutions to these network requirements.

Citrix is a leader in SD-WAN. Citrix SD-WAN provides a direct yet secure and reliable way to route enterprise traffic over the Internet between sites and to the cloud.

 

As with all things IT, there are many options open to you that are labelled SD-WAN and there is subsequently general agreement in the industry that not ALL SD-WAN solutions are equal.

Citrix SD-WAN is arguably one of the more advanced offerings on the market with some key technical differentiators when it comes to connecting users to services;

 

  • Integration with Microsoft Azure and Office 365
    • Beacon service provides least latency connections using direct breakout for O365 traffic.
  • Failover resiliency in milliseconds
    • Packet by packet based link selection provides for intelligent link selection and high speed fail over.
  • Intelligent path selection by packet vs. flow-based
    • Packet based uses best link available at time of transmission also allows LTE links to be incorporated real time and/or metered and as link of last resort.
  • WAN Edge or Overlay Mode with support for BGP and OSPF routing
    • Security is essential and v11.2 provides integrated Web Filtering, IDS/IPS and malware protection.
    • SSL inspection planned for late 2020.
  • Best user experience for Virtual Apps/Virtual Desktops and Enterprise applications
    • As always, Citrix on Citrix performance and control is unparalleled.

 

Who else is out there?

Silver Peak – develop products for wide area networks (WANs), including WAN optimisation and SD-WAN (Software-Defined WAN).

The Silver Peak documentation, talks about an SD-WAN solution needing foundational components, including the following:

 

  • Ability to leverage multiple forms of connectivity including broadband
    • Most SD-WAN solutions provide this including Citrix but the Silver Peak SD-WAN solutions that provide the LTE support actually require a third party device provided by their partner BEC Technologies. Multiple devices, multiple vendors, is this a route you want to go down?
  • Dynamic path selection
    • Not as dynamic as that statement would indicate. The information we’ve have read would indicate that a lot of the path selection involves “pre-defined” policies and once a link is chosen for traffic the return traffic is maintained on that link irrespective of the performance.
    • Silver Peak uses Forward Error Checking (FEC) to improve link visibility and utilisation. While FEC is better than nothing, it effectively adds probe traffic to the links, consuming 10 to 20% of available bandwidth with system traffic. Citrix SD-WAN uses a proprietary mechanism to understand this level of detail from the user and system traffic moving between peer devices. In simple terms, the Citrix method provides greater visibility into link condition without the need for synthetic probe traffic that consumes bandwidth. Put that into context, in a Silver Peak solution, up to a fifth of the available bandwidth between locations is not moving user traffic as it is clogged up with probe traffic to understand if there is congestion on the network. Go figure.
  • Security
    • The Citrix documentation states: Silver Peak solution lacks the integrated WAN edge solution with comprehensive routing and stateful firewall in the single box.
    • While Silver Peak offers some security features, edge security is heavily dependent on service chaining to 3rd party ‘aaS’ platforms or devices. Citrix SD-WAN’s ICSA certified stateful firewall often sparks a conversation about how and what edge security means in 2020 and beyond.
  • Dramatic cost reductions
    • On first sight the Silver Peak solution would seem to be low, however, on investigation the licences are “time based” and as such forces upgrades after 3 or 5 years. Bandwidth upgrades, SaaS and boost licences also need to be taken into consideration all contributing to a possible increase in the TCO.

The recent announcement that HPE intend to acquire Silver Peak clearly throws some uncertainty into what happens next for the SD-WAN vendor both at a commercial level and in terms of product development in the mid to long term. It’s a gamble that many are already looking to avoid, resulting in an increase in Silver Peak vs Citrix SD-WAN conversations – which is where we come in.

 

FIND OUT MORE

To find out more about Citrix SD-WAN and how it can help to address user and enterprise requirements call 0330 010 3443 or email hello@clouddnagroup.com

 

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