Citrix NetScaler enables application and services availability

From its early beginnings in 1894 as the Bank for British West Africa (incorporated in Liverpool), FirstBank was for many decades the only bank in Nigeria with a vision to be the clear leader and Nigeria’s bank of first choice. Over a hundred years later, FirstBank has remained resilient, dependable and dynamic. The bank continues to grow and has more than 700 branches nationwide with a datacenter for core banking operations.

The Challenge: Improve application availability and user productivity

FirstBank’s IT department is required to deliver highly-available services to its growing number of branch offices and end users, who need to access an ever-increasing number of applications. This requires an on-demand infrastructure to serve its branch network and other communications links. “Like many organizations that are growing rapidly, our network infrastructure was struggling to keep up with the needs of the organization,” said Ofem Ofem, Head of Networking, FirstBank.

Accommodating the increasing bandwidth demands on its network meant looking at ways of increasing the existing network performance. There were also the challenges of dealing with servers which had to be taken offline for potential failures, periodic maintenance, updates, upgrades and changes. The service to the users and business units could not be disrupted and any system changes had to be managed seamlessly. With the existing infrastructure at that time, network performance was suffering, system downtime was common and as a result, user productivity was negatively impacted. “There had to be change, and we needed a best-in-class solution to address these major issues,” Ofem continued.

The Solution: Citrix NetScaler MPX

Citrix NetScaler is an Application Delivery Controller (ADC) that optimizes the security, availability, scalability and performance of web-based applications.  NetScaler MPX appliances are high performance, hardware-based solutions that provide industry-leading web application delivery and load balancing, as well as enabling a full-service delivery fabric that spans enterprise datacenters and cloud infrastructures to make applications and cloud services run five times faster.  All NetScaler MPX appliances support Citrix nCore technology, which enables customers to tap the power of multi-core CPU systems to realize multi-gigabit performance and massive scalability for all application delivery workloads. Flexible Pay-As-You-Grow licensing helps customers protect their investment, avoid costly hardware upgrades and reduce the overall cost of ownership. NetScaler MPX appliances support small enterprises, massive global web sites and everything in between.

Ofem and his team reviewed a Gartner Inc. research report on Application Delivery Controllers (ADC) to identify the best-of-breed practices and select the appropriate intelligent Server Load-Balancing solution to meet their demands. “The Gartner report on the Citrix NetScaler product was very positive,” Ofem said. “And having conducted the POC, we validated Gartner’s review and were really pleased with NetScaler’s load balancing performance.  We therefore selected the Citrix solution and did not feel the need to even test another solution.”  He added. The implementation of three NetScaler MPX 7500s was simple and went without a hitch. The excellent support of the local Citrix partner, Converge G.C. Technologies Ltd., was only needed to help with queries around optimizing the solution.

Key Benefits

Increased number of users, services and servers

“With the high-speed and intelligent load balancing offered by NetScaler, FirstBank is now able to provide more services and servers, enabling us to increase the number of users across Nigeria from 4,000 to 12,000.” Ofem emphasized.

Improved user productivity

If a server is brought down for whatever reason, NetScaler can quickly and simply distribute the load to another server, maintaining full functional continuity to the users. According to Ofem, “in a short time after implementing NetScaler, we achieved a 25% increase in user productivity.” 

Increased application availability

The bank’s business units noticed such an increase in system performance and fewer interruptions, they actually remarked upon the improvement. The company has since run two surveys with the business units and the users. “I was really pleased to know that the business units have increased application availability by using NetScaler and the IT department has been recognized for the excellent results achieved,” Ofem said.

Looking Ahead

”I am very satisfied with the intelligent load balancing capabilities of NetScaler and it has exceeded my expectations. In the future we could explore enabling the NetScaler Gateway and the NetScaler AppFirewall features as we work on a migration path to NetScaler 10.x,” Ofem concluded.

About Citrix

Citrix (NASDAQ:CTXS) is the cloud company that enables mobile work styles—empowering people to work and collaborate from anywhere, easily and securely. With market-leading solutions for mobility, desktop virtualization, cloud networking, cloud platforms, collaboration and data sharing, Citrix helps organizations achieve the speed and agility necessary to succeed in a mobile and dynamic world. Citrix products are in use at more than 330,000 organizations and by over 100 million users globally. Annual revenue in 2012 was $2.59 billion. Learn more at

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In a short time after implementing NetScaler, we achieved a 25% increase in user productivity.
- Ofem Ofem

Head of Networking



Key Benefits

  • Increased bank users, services and servers
  • Improved user productivity
  • Increased application availability

Citrix Product