KKH is one of the largest health insurance funds in Germany. They have been around for more than 125 years, advising and assisting their policy holders in all areas of health. Almost 1.7 million people already place their trust in their insurance protection and count on the excellent service and excellent healthcare provided by KKH. KKH has a total of around 3,800 employees in 100 locations. These locations consist of large call centers and insurance centers that handle the paperwork, insurance administration and scheduling.
KKH incorporated an eLearning platform and rolled out to their sites. With their Windows Servers coming up for refresh and the increased bandwidth requirements that their newer collaboration tools, multimedia applications, and social media applications, it was time to upgrade the network.
The company relies heavily on Cisco Jabber multimedia applications, a pilot e-learning platform, Office 365, and the specially developed intranet to provide e-learning, but their network was not equipped to offer the quality experience required to deliver the videos. With only a single MPLS link connecting each site to the data centers, outages, link flapping and lack of sufficient bandwidth plagued the video quality causing it to lag terribly. Connections with bandwidth of 2 Mbps to 6 Mbps meant that only 10% of users could watch eLearning YouTube in 720p. More bandwidth would be required to deliver learning videos in HD quality.
At first, the IT team considered expanding MPLS or buying DSL lines. MPLS is costly and would take a significant amount of time to deploy across the network, even just as an upgrade. DSL could not match the stronger reliability that MPLS offered. They also would like to consume more cloud services, e.g., AWS, Azure, GCP, etc. At a crossroads, they heard about SD-WAN and how it can bond disparate links together.
With Citrix Virtual Apps and Windows Server freshly upgraded and new NVIDIA GRID™ graphics cards installed, they were nearly ready to deliver the new workspace. First, they started searching for a WAN Optimization solution to reduce the amount of bandwidth the applications were using.
KKH approached Citrix to create a business case. Citrix presented the benefits of a full SD-WAN solution which could allow them to reduce dependency on MPLS, add reliability with multiple links and provide quality of service for prioritizing the video and VoIP traffic.
Sascha Nagel, IT architect explains, “We could have just looked at expanding our MPLS bandwidth or purchase DSL lines, but with SD-WAN, we realized we could have a combination of MPLS, DSL, and LTE all together and the business case made a lot of sense to us.” KKH did a PoC with 2-3 boxes to simulate branch connectivity to HQ. Every packet was routed properly. Next, they did a pilot with five branches to test DSL and MPLS together using SD-WAN.
Before SD-WAN, users were not able to work on Microsoft Office applications and other core applications if other users were watching videos because they lacked bandwidth capacity.
“Now, Citrix SD-WAN’s fair bandwidth sharing allows users to still work even while others are watching videos because it ensures there’s plenty of bandwidth for each user,” says Nagel.
With Citrix Virtual Desktops, KKH can do GPU acceleration even on the older thin clients which cannot do traffic acceleration. In the future, KKH will take advantage of Citrix’s Browser Content Redirection to the clients, and then perform direct and local breakout from their sites to cloud services and deliver a high-quality experience using SD-WAN to route and optimize that traffic efficiently. In addition, since they use HDX technology as part of their Virtual Desktop, SD-WAN can provide deep visibility to the quality of experience with dashboards that show how the virtual applications are performing for users and can quickly resolve any issues, such as latency, that may come up. By sending VoIP traffic over both MPLS and DSL links at the same time, SD-WAN helps ensure VoIP quality and prevent calls from dropping. This means the quality of video has also improved, rendering lagging video a problem of the past. In the future, they’ll be able to locally breakout video to SaaS services like YouTube, using SD-WAN to optimize that traffic and route it directly.
“Citrix SD-WAN has given our branches a clear bandwidth advantage. This benefits both the individual users and the entire company. Because the easy and robust transmission, delivery of multimedia content is now much higher quality while bandwidth costs were reduced. As a result, user satisfaction has demonstrably increased,” says Nagel.