Case study: Aramex boosts application delivery with Citrix

Aramex is using the latest in application delivery to deliver its own promises, and goods, to customers

Tags: Application delivery controllerAramexCitrix Systems Incorporation
  • E-Mail
Case study: Aramex boosts application delivery with Citrix  Awajan: “We have leveraged the NetScaler technology to its fullest in the last eight years.”
By  David Ndichu Published  May 17, 2017

At the intersection of goods delivery and modern market demands lies an evolving transport and logistics technology platform that is transforming shipping.

As one of the biggest names in the regional transport and logistics sector, Aramex has been at the forefront of the technology evolution now underway in ME.

Aramex thus implemented Citrix solutions to ensure efficiency and reliability of its courier business while safeguarding sensitive customer information, says says Samer Awajan, chief technology officer (CTO), Aramex.

With a workforce that comprises of 18,000 employees in over 66 countries, Aramex partnered with Citrix to provide couriers and staff with reliable, secure access to core business apps regardless of their location.

With employees working in this manner, Aramex can process a higher number of customer orders, generating more revenue.

Applications are increasingly critical to run businesses, and Aramex like many businesses, depends on its ADC to run its apps.

In the face of new application architectures and evolving data centre technologies, the software-based ADC NetScaler simplifies deployment across any form factor, any hypervisor, any cloud. It also offers users the ability to manage, monitor, and troubleshoot the entire infrastructure from a single, unified console.

The NetScaler ADC, with its essential role of routing and optimising traffic and security for specific applications. From that standpoint, it offers customers the versatility to, one, distinguish between the different types of networks, the various types of applications, the traffic, the data etc.

“From a performance perspective, NetScaler is significantly optimised and ideal for customers such as Aramex who have multiple countries they operate from, and running different applications and also servicing the different multiple devices they are running across vast distances and allowing them to maintain application integrity specifically from a security standpoint for those applications,” says Arthur Dell, director, Technology and Service, MEA, Citrix.

Depending on the amount and volume of traffic traversing the network, customers could have many (appliances) moving traffic to one or just a single point of entry.

“In Aramex’s case, we put a single point of entry, an appliance located at their main data centre,” explains Dell.

Aramex today operates a platform on top of which it is able to provide a range of solutions to customers to facilitate their shipping needs, as well as customising the information that the company exchanges with customers to meet their expectations.

For that, Aramex offers apps for customers that enables them to check incoming packages, customise their delivery options, and check their timing for delivery as well as a set of tools on the company’s website that allow customers interact directly with Aramex.

These apps include ClickToShip, a desktop shipping application. For Aramex customers with regular shipping, ClickToShip automates shipment preparation, pick‐up requests, calculates shipping rates, tracks shipments and manage shipping addresses.

“Customers can install ClickToShip in their businesses to enable them communicate with our datacentre the information they require for their daily shipping. ClickToShip also facilitates the feeding of information on the shipping activities for that customer,” says Awajan.

On the logistics end, Aramex operates warehouses to store goods for customers. A set of APIs allows customers to instruct Aramex to pick up the goods and place them in a warehouse or dispatch them from the warehouse. “These types of solutions, require very robust infrastructure to make sure that services are available 24/7,” says Awajan.

Aramex provides customers with a number of APIs and tools that allow them seamlessly integrate their website with the company’s various applications. These API tools integrate the customer’s system with Aramex backend via the Internet. They include the Rate Calculator API; Shipping Services API; Shipments Tracking API; and Location Services API.

“We also use the NetScaler to protect our APIs from DDoS attacks and other malicious attacks,” says Awajan.

Delivery personnel are issued with the e-Courier app on their devices and through this app the driver is fed all the deliveries for the day in sequence. The software will update the system at the back-end when the delivery happens and with the ability to capture the customer’s signature. This has become an integral part of our operations, says Awajan.

Business need

Aramex began by using the virtual appliances of NetScaler seven years ago, then running a very basic low-scale load balancing environment while running Windows Network Load Balancing. The system failed to serve the business adequately, lacking the required stability as well as the ability to scale out and control all the traffic. After market research, Citrix NetScaler emerged as a very attractive proposition due to the fact that it was also available as a virtualised appliance. This was a very futuristic offering at the time and the company was among the first to offer the virtual appliance early on. Aramex had already taken the decision to virtualise its environment, so the product fitted perfectly.

The virtual appliance worked well but as the company grew, there was need to shift to physical boxes Aramex then upgraded to NetScaler ADC to leverage its expanded functionalities such as to control and inspect the traffic, its web application firewall capability, authentication capabilities, among other features. Aramex was also keen to utilise the appliance’s networking capabilities as well because NetScaler can adapt to the different network segments.

“We have leveraged the technology to its fullest in the last eight years,” says Awajan.
NetScaler has exceeded the objectives, says Awajan. “We came from a very basic load balancing Windows environment; this ADC is more than a load balancer and we have learnt a lot about its capabilities. We have leveraged these capabilities such  that we have started being proactive by configuring the appliance to catch problems before they happen. It ends up a very integral part of our data centre, says Awajan.
Aramex began with a couple of virtual appliances which were used for load balancing on the few web apps the company had at that time, and then grew organically. In 2016, the company begun to fully leverage the solution.

Awajan says the vendor selection process was straightforward because Citrix is one of only two brands  with a virtualised appliance.

The only hiccup during the implementation process was customising the whole SSL operations of the box, a relatively sophisticated affair, but the people at Citrix were very responsive whenever Aramex IT raised any issues.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code