For VFLI, a subsidiary of SNCF (the French national railway corporation), the logistics of managing 70 sites, rail freight forwarding, the loading and unloading of wagons at industrial sites, and the maintenance or construction of railway lines, require a reliable network. VFLI’s WAN infrastructure relied on MPLS lines, which were reliable but expensive and difficult to manage.
“Each MPLS line costs us a significant amount, and the slightest expansion is very complicated,” says Younes Ouguerzi, Director of Information Systems and Digital Transformation, VFLI.
For each new client or contract, VFLI would set up a nearby site. But preparing a new MPLS line was time-consuming and restricting because the company centralizes internet traffic through its data center.
Ouguerzi says, “We had a structure which was not at all adapted to the new usages, which have come about as more and more of our applications are available in the cloud,” including its Office 365 suite and business applications hosted on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) public cloud.
VFLI needed a solution that would improve network performance and reduce reliance on MPLS.
Most of VFLI’s fiber optic links are safeguarded by ADSL, SDSL, and VDSL communications, so Ouguerzi’s team chose Citrix SD-WAN to create a software-defined WAN.
SD-WAN simplifies the management and usability of the network by using intelligent data-traffic prioritization to optimize use of all available connections. It combines the speed-guaranteed MPLS lines with public internet connections to balance and prioritize traffic according to VFLI’s needs. As a result, the business is no longer restricted by local internet access providers or the availability of wired or wireless technology at any given location. SD-WAN selects the best available channel at any site.
“We had three requirements,” Ouguerzi explains, “to set up and test the appliances to observe how our WAN functioned on the internet links; to test the integration of the MPLS and internet links; and to study the behavior of the applications under the cloud setup requirements.”
The project was a complete success. The company was able to set up virtualized appliances in AWS and connect the workload in the cloud to its network.
VFLI has installed Citrix SD-WAN across 18 sites so far. Citrix has also facilitated the transfer of VFLI data center applications onto AWS.
This Citrix solution has enabled VFLI to quickly install a new site in Rouen. While waiting for an MPLS link, the company installed 4G routers and an internet link, which was delivered within two weeks — a record time that was previously out of the question.
For VFLI, Citrix SD-WAN is one of the best solutions on the market for setting up a reliable, functional, and scalable wide area network.
“This will change users’ lives,” Ouguerzi says. “On some sites, we have moved from 8 Mbps to 100 Mbps. And for those industrial sites that have very difficult access to fiber optic, being able to aggregate two or three links and move from a rate of 2 Mbps to 13 Mbps is very much welcomed.”
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