The Danish AgriFish Agency, which oversees the Danish agricultural and fishing industries, is responsible for promoting the growth and responsible management of Danish natural resources. The agency works closely with farmers, fisheries, researchers, organizations and other governmental agencies to support its mandate. As part of its oversight responsibilities, the Danish AgriFish agency relies on a fleet of agency ships to inspect fishing activities in Danish territorial waters.
The Challenge: Providing mobile connections to seafaring staff
AgriFish Agency's employees work at sea where mobile coverage is extremely limited. Yet these crews still need access to IT applications, such as Microsoft Office, to perform their jobs and communicate with people on shore. However, sailing close enough to shore to get a solid mobile connection took crews away from where they needed to perform inspections, while satellite connections were costly. Moreover, managing mobile connections had to be done manually and there was no way to see which connections were functioning properly.
The Solution: Creating a virtual WAN to support mobile and satellite connections
Citrix partner Zentura introduced the Danish AgriFish Agency to Citrix NetScaler SD-WAN at a Citrix Synergy event in 2015. The Citrix NetScaler SD-WAN works by automatically selecting cellular or satellite communication links, depending on local conditions, so that traffic flows across the best connection without any manual intervention. Combined with Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp, NetScaler SD-WAN gives end users remote access to their applications without performance problems.
The Agency first conducted a proof of concept by installing NetScaler SD-WAN appliances on a control ship in the North Sea as well as at the agency's data center. "Only one month after we went into production, the benefits were very obvious," says Bjarne Lund, team manager for infrastructure development at AgriFish. "NetScaler SD-WAN consolidates multiple connections, so now the control vessel can make use of 3G/4G/LTE from all four cellular suppliers and satellite at the same time. The mobile coverage is increased dramatically."
Key Benefits Ensuring reliable connectivity at sea
Agency staff no longer struggle to maintain connectivity when at sea. "Mobile data coverage has significantly increased," says Lund. "Before, we were very lucky to have a signal 5 to 8 nautical miles from shore; now users have coverage up to 23 nautical miles from Skagen!" As a result, crews are able to focus their efforts on their inspection work, rather than spend time searching for a connection.
Simplifying management and oversight of connections
Citrix NetScaler SD-WAN integrates the cellular and satellite coverage options, automatically making use of the one best suited for current conditions. Connectivity shifts automatically, based on connection quality, eliminating the need for crews to manage connections manually. "Crews are also able to see which connections are active and keep an eye on whether the satellite connection is delivering the promised capacity via NetScaler SD-WAN's monitoring dashboard," says Lund.
Improving connection speeds and employee satisfaction
The agency's previous satellite communications systems suffered from low bandwidth and high latency, and were more expensive than cellular connections. Because NetScaler SD-WAN uses the best available connection, network throughput has significantly improved. As a result, employees are more productive and their personal and business communications are easier to support—a significant benefit for crew working away from home for long periods of time.
Following its successful proof of concept deployment, AgriFish plans to install Citrix NetScaler SD-WAN on additional ships next year. The solution's delivery of streamlined data connectivity will help ships remain where they need to be longer and conduct more effective inspections. As a result, the NetScaler SD-WAN will benefit Danish fisheries and the environment as well as the ships' crews.
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