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Scalability and Internet Performance: Top Considerations for Retailers

November 26, 2020 | Written by: Surinder Paul | , ,

The late ‘90s was really the beginning of the Internet and DNS. The technology was fun to play with, but was really only required if a user was sending emails to someone on the ARPAnet or, later, accessing one of those new web servers. Internally, most companies used a different naming service, such as host tables. Today, nearly every TCP/IP-based network of any size uses DNS as its naming service, and almost all non-trivial applications on those networks rely on DNS. If DNS isn’t working, neither is the network.

Imagine the impact for big retailers who are serving millions of customers all around the world – especially on days like Black Friday – either online or in one of their automated distributed stores, if they have even only a few minutes of network unavailability due to DNS outage. Internet/Intranet performance is obviously crucial for them, but so is the ability to manage all stores from a central location without impacting local availability, and the ability to scale up to the millions of transactions they are managing every day.

Those are the challenges retailers are facing and for which the only answer is a high availability, scalable, centralized management platform, which can take care of all remote locations quickly and efficiently. The choice of a DNS-DHCP-IPAM (DDI) solution has now become critical for success in the retail business.

Around-the-clock availability and omni-channel experience

The retail market is one of the most ruthless: competition is fierce, looking for the tiniest mistake that will cost you money. Investors are adding more and more pressure to maximize profits, whilst enhancing the customer shopping experience. Although the Internet has made it easy for retailers to reach a global audience, the primary challenge of high performance is crucial all around the world: users must be served at any time, any moment, from anywhere. In particular for big events like Cyber Monday, sales, visibility/reachability and immediate around-the-clock availability are key requirements for retailers.

Providing a uniform user experience is the second main challenge, due to the growing importance of omni-channel strategies. Fully integrated IT plays a key role in this. A simple example is that the design of the website should remain consistent even when using the mobile application, and should also closely resemble the branding within the physical store. Consumers can then shop the same way in-store, on the website, via the mobile app, and by telephone, regardless of their location and time of day.

Automating opening or closing stores to increase competitiveness

Having a highly available DNS infrastructure is essential for all retailers to ensure their reachability. However, without the capability for IT automation that supports omni-channel processes, retail strategies will not be controlled and implemented efficiently. This becomes increasingly relevant when you consider that major retailers on the market like Carrefour or IKEA have more and more IT-based devices (barcode scanners, forklift trucks, cash registers, fridges) that rely on the network, and thus on DNS to work. A DNS outage or a simple delay in transmission … and the whole chain is in danger.

Moreover, in order to increase competitiveness, retailers have a need for very high levels of agility for adapting their store location strategy, and the opening or closing of stores. Automation is key to making this happen in a timely manner. This scalability must be considered when choosing the right DDI (DNS-DHCP-IPAM) solution. Capacity to ensure quick store deployment while keeping centralized management to allow consistency of the distributed networks should be one of the main capabilities of this DDI solution. Large retailers are good examples, as they have a huge number of remote locations which need to be managed centrally, but at the same time keep a focus on local consistency, due to the amount of true automation they have in their local warehouses and stores.

Consistency of distributed networks through a fully integrated DDI solution

In order to provide DDI solutions to a massive company, for instance the world’s largest furniture retailer operating more than 400 stores in 50 countries, you must have a scalable and performant solution. But these are not the only requirements.

The best way to overcome retail challenges is to rely on a fully integrated automated DDI solution. First, creating new stores in the IT infrastructure can be easily handled through IP Address Management -by creating standardized site-based templates of DDI resources.

Secondly, to enforce policies and keep consistency of the distributed networks, having a centralized management platform and consolidating IP data into a dynamic, accurate repository is mandatory and makes life easier for administrators. Keeping consistency also means having very high performance data synchronization capabilities. This is often the challenge with DDI solutions which are not designed to manage a multitude of remote DNS/DHCP appliances all around the world. As for cost savings, having the ability to deploy reliable DNS/DHCP capabilities in all stores using the site-based templates for automating deployment is a true differentiator- a highly available solution capable of serving all remote locations quickly. Gartner calls these “repeatable configuration kits” (see: 3 Ways to Improve Network Automation – ID: G00382803). The templates offered by EfficientIP DDI have been proven to significantly accelerate store deployments, bringing up to 80% time savings

This will become even more relevant with the next level of omni-channel integration: Amazon Go was introduced as a cashier-free convenience store: no lines, no registers, no self-checkout machines. Computer vision and sensors are in place to detect the items you are taking out of the store. Consequently, the flow of data going through the servers has been increased, meaning only those DNS servers with the capability of high traffic absorption, enhanced connectivity and real-time processing are able to ensure retailers can offer a smooth user experience while keeping an eye on consumer’s habits for upsell afterwards. Business is business after all!

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