In 2017, logistics companies ECS European Containers and 2XL decided to merge into one European logistics group: ECS 2XL. Since both businesses have their own branch offices in Europe and their just-in-time systems require a highly flexible network, they needed to reevaluate the configuration of all data connections to their main office. “We chose to do this with Citrix SD-WAN. Xylos helped us set up everything quickly”, says Tijs Blancquaert, IT Manager at ECS 2XL.
ECS 2XL’s warehouses are strategically located for sea, rail and road transport services. But their geographical location isn’t the only important aspect for the distribution company: they also need to communicate flawlessly between sites, so their customers aren’t inconvenienced by network problems. That’s why they decided to reevaluate their entire network setup.
“We could’ve left the complete setup to a provider, but we’ve had some unfortunate experiences with this approach in the past. The costs would’ve been too high as well”, Tijs explains. “So far, we’ve been taking care of things ourselves. We’ve set up four VPN tunnels per location to optimise our uptime, but the problem of this setup is its complexity. For example: during a partial network failure or brown-out, one of these lines didn’t fail over automatically, so we had to fix the problem manually. This in turn impacted the end user because data packages took a while to arrive. All in all, VPN tunnels take a lot of management and troubleshooting.”
“To remedy this, we looked for a solution that takes less effort, causes less stress and simplifies our operational procedures. With SD-WAN, our network managers have an easier time taking care of network services because they don’t need to worry about setting up VPN tunnels. They just need to establish a uniform connection between the devices and the central warehouse”, Tijs adds.
ECS 2XL tested Citrix SD-WAN in their Dublin office, but the preparations happened in Zeebrugge, where Xylos’ consultants prepared all devices and set up a 4G network. “We chose Xylos because their corporate culture speaks to us. This is a crucial factor to determine whether we’ll work with a certain partner or not. Our collaboration is very mature and their consultants always stick to our agreements. Shortly put, Xylos meets all our expectations”, Tijs says.
The SD-WAN technology has already proven its merit. “A few months ago, the fibre-optic cables between two of our sites were damaged during excavations, which caused some of our international warehouses to lose their network connection with our head office. At first, we thought our Dourges site was a lost case, because it would take too much time to travel to France and solve the problem on site”, Tijs explains. “But just after we’d notified out customers about the problem, it suddenly solved itself. Our connections had reestablished themselves dynamically through our SD-WAN devices – and we didn’t have to lift a finger. We didn’t quite catch on immediately; due to the sudden surge of stress, we’d forgot that network problems such as this one were a thing of the past”, Tijs continues.
“In September, Citrix and Xylos will organise a training for our network managers, so that they’ll be able to set up and manage the network connection internally”, Tijs concludes.
“Our connections reestablish themselves dynamically thanks to our SD-WAN devices - and we don’t have to lift a finger.”