Citrix and Equinix are partnering to let customers access Equinix Cloud Exchange and Performance Hub using Citrix’s NetScaler SD-WAN appliances.
The idea is to improve the performance of cloud-based applications for branches and remote offices by taking advantage of Equinix’s direct access to providers such as Amazon and SaaS applications like Office 365.
At the same time, customers can mix and match local connectivity options, including Internet broadband and MPLS, from branches to an Equinix facility via the NetScaler SD-WAN.
Equinix Cloud Exchange offers private links between its facilities and those of cloud providers, including Amazon, Azure, Google, and Oracle. Equinix has nine Cloud Exchange locations in North America.
Equinix will host a customer’s NetScaler SD-WAN appliances in the physical Cloud Exchange locations that the customer wants. The customer then sets up connections to the hosted appliances from branch and remote offices.
While Equinix hosts the appliance in its facility, the customer remotely manages configurations, policy settings, and management, just as it does other data center and branch appliances in its SD-WAN mesh.
The companies announced the partnership in late November. It’s not an exclusive deal; Equinix can partner with other SD-WAN vendors, and Citrix can partner with other interconnection providers.
One of the value propositions that SD-WAN vendors tout is the ability of their products to improve WAN performance through a variety of means (for example, virtually bonding multiple links, monitoring connections and steering high-priority applications over the best-performing link, and employing WAN optimization techniques to optimize protocols and cache content).
If an SD-WAN product is already boosting performance, customers will need to have compelling business reasons to pay the additional cost of a private connection to a cloud provider.
Those reasons do exist. There may be HQ or branch offices that need the extra reliability and performance. Or an organization may be exploring a hybrid cloud environment, or experimenting with cloud for disaster recovery. In such use cases, a high-speed, low-latency private link might make sense.
Outside of such uses cases, however, this partnership will likely have limited appeal. But it does add a note to the steady drumbeat of SD-WAN’s march on more traditional approaches to wide area networking.