Citrix Enhances Automation, Flexibility in SD-WAN Offering

The company's NetScaler 9.1 will come with a new appliance, the ability to run hybrid environments and zero-touch deployment services.


Citrix Systems is building more automation and simplicity into its software-defined WAN offering while making the product more affordable.

Company officials on Oct. 11 rolled out NetScaler 9.1, the latest version of the vendor's SD-WAN technology that includes new appliance options for enterprise branch offices and cloud-based services that brings automation to the deployment process.

The goal is to give customers the tools to quickly launch and manage their SD-WAN environments and more options for them to choose from, according to Chalan Aras, vice president and general manager of Citrix's NetScale SD-WAN business.

"Today's market includes solutions that are simply a collection of technologies that require multiple appliances, complex integrations and assorted management systems," Aras said in a statement, adding that NetScaler SD-WAN is designed to help "customers implement SD-WAN in a quick, cost-effective manner, reduce network complexity, and enable employees to seamlessly consume applications from the data center or cloud."

SD-WAN is a fast-growing segment in the larger network virtualization space that includes technologies like software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV). Enterprises traditionally have routed applications and network traffic between the data center and branch and campus offices via expensive and complex transport modes like Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS). However, in a more cloud-centric world, where applications can be accessed from multiple sources and branch traffic can run not only to the data center but also to the cloud and other places, such modes as MPLS don't work as well anymore.

Businesses are looking for ways to make their networks more scalable, flexible, dynamic and affordable. SD-WAN offers multiple transport modes—including broadband and WiFi—and the tools to automatically choose the best avenue for each workload.

It's a crowded market, with established vendors like Cisco Systems and Riverbed Technology competing with smaller pure-play companies like VeloCloud, Talari Networks, Silver Peak and CloudGenix. It's not difficult to see why. IDC analysts are predicting the market will grow from less than $225 million last year to $6 billion by 2020.

Citrix officials have said that NetScaler gives businesses and service providers an option that is more robust, easier to use and more cost-effective than those from competitors, and it now comes with more features and capabilities.

NetScaler 9.1 SD-WAN can be used in place of legacy branch routers, but also will enable businesses to embrace a hybrid approach of existing routers and SD-WAN without interrupting operations. In addition, with the new version of the solution, customers will be able to build multiple virtual networks that can separate along such lines as WiFi, point-of-sale and patient records, or along lines of businesses. The separation can deliver greater security and enable businesses to apply distinct policies to each network segment, officials said.

Citrix also is offering a new affordable branch appliance, the NetScaler SD-WAN 410, which is designed for enterprises that are highly distributed and can scale up to seven times higher bandwidth without having to bring in new hardware. In addition, the new Zero Touch Deployment service offered by Citrix will enable customers to deploy NetScaler SD-WAN automatically without having to involve their own IT staffs.

NetScaler SD-WAN 9.1 is available now, and the NetScaler 410 appliance will be released next month. The Zero Touch Deployment service will be available as a tech preview in November.