Liantis provides payroll, health and HR services to enterprises throughout Belgium. The business, headquartered in Brugge en Brussels, has around 60 branches throughout the country, enabling it to deal with customers face to face. This branch network is constantly expanding or relocating to support the shifting needs of customers across the geography.
“If you’re a business owner, we take care of the full lifecycle of being an employer,” says John Helsmoortel, Project Manager, Liantis. “We leave you free to do what you do best: running your business.”
Liantis is increasingly digital. The business of managing payroll is complex, involving ever-changing government regulations, pension guidance and tax. The situation is similar for healthcare services. Liantis needs to implement changes quickly and transparently. It needs its systems to be updated, and consistent, immediately. Each year it handles four million salary calculations.
“We have 1,800 employees, 250 of whom are working in IT,” explains Helsmoortel. “Our IT infrastructure and the tools we use can create a point of difference for the business.”
The challenge Liantis faces on a regular basis is getting branches up and running as quickly and as efficiently as possible. With having to order hardware and arrange connectivity for each new location, it could take up to six months to have a new office fully operational.
“IT had to deal with custom solutions for every office,” says Helsmoortel. “This meant that timelines were being impacted.”
Liantis had explored several solutions by the time Helsmoortel was brought in to manage the project. “We got ourselves into an endless loop of looking at new options. We needed to stop, set some parameters, and give each parameter a score,” he says. “It became clear that Citrix SD-WAN scored highest.”
A proof of concept (POC) involving four suppliers revealed this to be the case. Citrix was able to demonstrate every one of its claims. “That wasn’t the case with the others,” adds Helsmoortel. “It is important to me that suppliers can back up their claims. Citrix also provided some relevant customer references.”
Liantis, Citrix and partner, Xylos, worked as one during the entire project lifecycle to make sure it was successful and day-to day support from Xylos is just a phone call away whenever needed.
In total, Liantis created 17 parameters. Helsmoortel says Citrix met 15 out of the 17. Specifically, Citrix SD-WAN answered three of the most critical criteria: zero-touch deployment, ease of management, and the ability to differentiate between different types of network access.
Citrix SD-WAN (formerly NetScaler SD-WAN) is a next-generation WAN Edge solution that simplifies digital transformation for enterprises. It offers the best application experience for SaaS, cloud, and virtual apps and desktops; comprehensive security; and cloud choice with automation to ensure an always-on workspace.
Having selected Citrix SD-WAN, the next step was to create a simple means of categorizing different branches.
“We used what we call ‘the T-shirt scale’,” explains Helsmoortel. “XL for the offices with 200 staff, S for those with just one or two. That effects the different hardware and connectivity needed. It means we don’t have to reinvent the installation process for every office.”
Xylos, trusted local Citrix Platinum partner, lead the implementation and delivered training sessions to get the Liantis team up to speed on Citrix SD-WAN, providing key expertise on networking and installation to the engineers.
“Being able to manage zero-touch deployments was very important. We wanted to avoid having to send four engineers on site to manage a new office. The Xylos workshops were extremely useful in getting us familiar with the solution,” says Helsmoortel. The strong relationship between Liantis, Citrix and Xylos became even more evident as the partner worked on placing the solution in production, ready to go to market.
The engagement with Citrix means Liantis can now open new branch offices quickly and efficiently. Helsmoortel expects the roll-out to be completed by June 2020; this would have been finished earlier, but for the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The immediate benefit is the way we’ve been able to optimize our bandwidth consumption,” Helsmoortel states. “The project is going to save us half a million euros in connectivity costs over five years.”
This is not entirely down to Citrix SD-WAN, he adds. Liantis has been able to renegotiate connectivity contracts, downsizing some connections, and increasing bandwidth in others as Citrix SD-WAN affords the flexibility to do that. The engagement enables a smarter approach to connectivity management.
It is not easy to predict economic conditions in 2021. As a supplier of services to SMEs, Liantis is aware of the impact a recession may have on its core market. The business at least has the means to flex its branch network quickly and efficiently. New branches can be opened, existing ones can be scaled up or down.
“We want IT to be a business enabler,” says Helsmoortel. “We now have the speed and agility to best support the business, whatever may come.”