One of the concerns that we've had with Exinda is the fact that ever since GFI took over Exinda, they haven't really put in much time into actually developing the product. That would be a concern going forward. I would rate Exinda a six out of ten. The product's okay, we have concerns about GFI where they're not developing the product and the technical support isn't very good.
What it does is an essential thing. I rely on it to be automated. We use it for everything. It has definitely met our needs and helped us control traffic flow. We get a great picture of what's going on across network applications. It has allowed us to keep tabs on network performance. I would definitely size your appliance with a little room to grow. You don't know where you're going to be, e.g., you could have an explosion in technology a year from now. When you manage your traffic, then you can do a whole lot more with a whole lot less. It's just like anything, if you manage it well, then it will work well. That's the big takeaway. We get a good picture of what people are using and our technologies right now, which is really important. It is very interesting just to watch and see the types of applications and devices that the younger generations are using. When you have a better idea of what their needs are and their needs are met, it's a better overall experience for them. I would rate this solution as a 10 out of 10.
The biggest things with Exinda are being able to shape and visualize and provide a customer with a report. It helps with being open and honest as well. Nine out of 10 times customers have access to the Exinda and so do we, so everything is completely transparent and honest. If they're not getting the 50 Mb, they can see it and we can see it. There's no hiding it, which is what I like a lot. Look into it keeping in mind that it's a proper shaper and not just a policer. Look into those facts and understand a little bit more about it. I've seen a lot of customers still buying archaic shapers, but it's easier to shape something nicely than to just drop packets. "Shaper versus policer" is probably the best advice I can give. Make sure the shaper that you're buying is actually a proper shaper.
Go through the training. The training time that I spent at Exinda was well worth it. I got a lot of insight from that. Exinda also allows you to focus on application performance rather than just throttling traffic and bandwidth, although that's not something that we do. There are a lot of things that we could do with the stuff that we have, but we just don't have the shop to be able to monitor a lot of the things too closely. If we have a problem, we can go and look at stuff. We have things set up so that we can monitor some of these applications and some of the SLAs that we've set up. For example, we can watch the response time for the student information system, particularly, to make sure that it's always available to faculty and students.
My advice would be to be sure to choose the right license. They have a lot of options with a lot of features but you have to be sure to choose the license type that you need. I would rate Exinda an eight out of ten. In the next release, I would like to have the ability to work with the cloud.
Before you deploy, think about what you're trying to achieve and think about what your success criteria are. That's what you need to do with any solution. There's no point buying a solution and then trying to work out what you're trying to achieve with it. First, decide what a successful deployment looks like and then see if Exinda will do. While it works for my company, it may not work for a different organization with a different network setup. It works well for us because we have a largely centralized application deployment. If we had a more distributed application, the benefit from Exinda would be a lot less. The biggest lesson I have learned from using this solution is about control and visibility. It gives me visibility over network traffic and it gives me some control over how to prioritize different traffic types. In terms of the number of users of the solution, it is not that sort of a tool. It sits on the WAN. So anybody who's using the network, their traffic will be going across an Exinda. It requires very few people for deployment and maintenance. For the deployment we needed two people, just to help get it racked. If you need to have one replaced it's a very simple process. You don't need a large number of people to manage and maintain an Exinda deployment. The people involved are network techs. As a solution, I would rate Exinda at nine out of 10. What I don't like is the fact that I haven't purchased the overall management interface. That is the interface that allows you to manage multiple Exindas. Personally, I think Exinda should provide that for free. I think that if you buy more and more Exinda boxes, you shouldn't then have to incur a charge for the overall management software. While I can manage each Exinda separately, if they provided me with the overall management platform for free, that would probably encourage me to buy more appliances. I think their view is that if you have more than, say, 10 Exindas, you really need the management platform. We have nine, at the moment. We could go from nine to 20. Managing them all separately is not that difficult. But for me, if I've invested in the platform, and then Exinda says, "Well, we've come out with a solution that allows you to manage your estate more easily," having it would probably encourage us to buy more Exindas, because it would be easier to manage them. Surely it would be in their interest to give me the overarching management platform, either for free or at a heavy discounted price. They've come up with a solution that allows you to manage more and more boxes, but then you have to pay for it. So you get hit with a double cost. You get hit with the cost of buying more Exindas and then you get hit with a very hefty cost for their management platform. I'm not going to go into specifics, but the last time I looked at the management platform cost I said, "Wow, how much? How much to manage a box that I could manage by myself?" I remember looking at the cost and saying, "Well, that has killed that sale immediately."