Citrix plans SD-WAN offensive in SA

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Andy MacDonald, Citrix vice-president for emerging markets.
Andy MacDonald, Citrix vice-president for emerging markets.

Citrix wants to exploit the software-defined networking in a wide area network (SD-WAN) market in SA and the rest of Africa.

So said Andy MacDonald, Citrix vice-president for emerging markets, in an interview with ITWeb on the sidelines of the Citrix Synergy 2019 event in Atlanta.

SD-WAN simplifies the management and operation of a WAN by decoupling the networking hardware from its control mechanism.

A key application of SD-WAN is to allow companies to build higher-performance WANs using lower-cost and commercially available Internet access, enabling businesses to partially or wholly replace more expensive private WAN connection technologies such as multiprotocol label switching, commonly referred to as MPLS, MacDonald explained.

Citrix SD-WAN, formerly NetScaler SD-WAN, increases the performance and reliability of traditional enterprise applications, software-as-a-service applications, and virtual desktops over any network while simplifying the branch network, the company says.

According to market analyst firm IDC, the emergence of SD-WAN technology has been one of the fastest industry transformations seen in years. It points out that organisations of all sizes are modernising their WANs to provide improved user experience for a range of cloud-enabled applications.

A recent report from IHS Markit found that in the fourth quarter of 2018, the SD-WAN market grew 26% from the previous quarter to reach $359 million. This number includes appliance, control and management software.

According to IHS, VMware led the SD-WAN market in the quarter, with a revenue share of 20%, followed closely by Cisco at 14%, and Aryaka at 12%.

"We will be announcing some big deals in the SD-WAN space soon, and we see ourselves becoming a leading player in South Africa and the rest of Africa as well," he said.

However, he could not share more details about the imminent deals.

According to MacDonald, the company is actively engaging in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria to bring its SD-WAN solutions.

However, he said the economic circumstances in Nigeria are difficult at the moment for the company to make meaningful inroads in that country.

"Nonetheless, we are making sure Citrix is well-positioned, together with our partners, to go into Nigeria and Kenya."

MacDonald pointed out SD-WAN is prevalent in areas where there are branch environments and bandwidth costs are expensive.

In SA, Citrix will target the banking and healthcare sectors with its SD-WAN solutions, he said.

"Those are really our sweet spots in South Africa, and we will also look into some government areas because we are starting to see more government spending to bring in new services.

"We have some interesting government projects in Egypt in areas such as education and defence. However, in South Africa, we will focus more on banking and healthcare."

He believes the intelligent workspace solution the company unveiled during the event will have a huge impact on the South African market, thanks to the availability of Azure data centres locally.

"We are working very closely with Microsoft; we are going to customers together in a number of areas and this is helping in getting workloads into the cloud.

"We are also seeing some interest in the analytics and security space. However, the company will start pushing the products towards the end of the year as it is putting much of its energy on the SD-WAN and workspace side."

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