With fast emerging technologies, challenges of network design in distributed retail store locations is becoming huge. As retail store and distributed enterprise environments evolve, the underlying network infrastructure must evolve with the transformational changes to embrace new technologies such as mobile and digital media which aim to improve customer experience. Embracing new technological changes in a retail network needs to be carefully thought through by raising the following questions:
- Is the network infrastructure scalable?
- With the increased scale, is the network still secure?
- Are the operating costs increasing with the network expansion?
- Above all, is there still sanity prevailing in the management of such an evolved network?
The ultimate goal of a network design for any distributed retail location is to create a smart, flexible and easy-to manage platform that can scale to the specific needs of each site, while helping the organization reduce costs and risks. Typical solution of solving any network design expansion is to throw more capacity at the problem. As support for new technology and devices arise, there is overinvestment with added complexity. A new paradigm shift is necessary that can provide a converged infrastructure, simple & easy-to-use management, lower operating costs and can scale to a retail store site’s specific business need.
Let us start by understanding a typical retail store network. A retail store has many components: Point of Sale (POS) devices that require network access to process orders, multiple PoE powered devices such as IP cameras, Network devices such as storage servers & printers, multiple internal backend networks that employees need access to and above all a Guest WiFi requirement that retail customers can benefit from. Taking these attributes into account, a typical retail store design gets broken up into:
- Multiple internal networks for employee access (for example Sales, Engineering, Finance)
- Point-of-Sale (POS) network
- Network devices ““ PoE Cameras, PoE/PoE+ driven Access Points, Storage Servers & Printers
- Wireless Networks ““ Corporate internal wireless, Guest wireless
The retail network design needs to be secure, fault tolerant and interconnected. Security is typically offered by next-generation firewalls, switches provide the interconnectivity and wireless is offered through multiple access points depending on the store location size. With a scattered management design, an IT administrator is faced with the challenge of managing the network through multiple management consoles. There is the added operating cost of licensing for the various management consoles. A certain madness starts to prevail with the varied management solution as we consider troubleshooting issues in such a network.
With the newly launched SonicOS 6.2.5, SonicWall Security launched a special feature, X-Series integration, that allows for a simplified management of secure converged infrastructure across a distributed retail network by integrating SonicWall X-Series switches into a single consolidated management view that already controls SonicWall firewalls, SonicWall SonicPoints (wireless access points), and SonicWall WAN acceleration devices. Using SonicWall Global Management System (GMS), SonicWall now offers a compelling single-vendor, consolidated secure management solution for distributed retail networks. If you are an existing customer and partner looking for the latest release notes, they are posted here: https://support.software.dell.com/sonicwall-tz-series/release-notes-guides
To learn more about the design of a scalable secure retail network, download our Tech brief: Scalable, consolidated security for retail networks.