Walk into a modern shop and you’ll see this new interface to the world of retail. It’s chip credit card readers, barcode scanners, smart e-paper price labels, intelligent posters, and Bluetooth beacons- a list that goes on and on and into the cloud. They’re tools that are bringing about new ways of selling, and are changing the face of retail in ways you wouldn’t expect. For instance, at its recent Dreamforce event, Salesforce notably demonstrated a tool that used Bluetooth beacons to provide in-building navigation for the visually impaired, using maps held in the familiar Salesforce database.
Even fashion has gone digital. Chanel took design cues from the data centers that now power most large retail businesses in its new digitally-inspired Paris collection (image credit: Reuters). But that’s just part of the story of retail’s digital transformation. When we look at shops as the old world of brick and mortar, today’s retail businesses are multi-channel entities that are flush with servers and a myriad of connected devices.
The data-driven retail world
It’s all part of a tidal wave of digital transformation, letting businesses bring ecommerce to the physical world, capturing customers and their buying habits in real-time. Free Wi-Fi in a store isn’t there to make it easier for you to Instagram that new suit…it’s a tool for identifying you and your devices and then tracking you as you walk through the shop.
The result is a new world of digital retail that delivers a dynamic and changing set of services, responding to customer behaviors in real-time. This means businesses must be able to manage new demands for IP addresses in order to handle these new information flows from store hardware and customer devices.
With customer devices and corporate devices sharing wireless networks, retailers are going to need effective separation of consumer and business networks, using VLANs. At the same time, retail analytics tools will need reports from the customer VLAN of devices and locations. Businesses need fast and effective DDI (DNS-DHCP-IPAM protocols) to handle the footfall across stores and across their entire network.
Consistency is key, and not just with new retail technologies that need effective IP management. Cloud and ecommerce systems need the same tools to handle scaling (especially when you have to manage resources at peak loads, around Black Friday and the holiday season).
The role of DDI in retail
DDI, and IP address management specifically, are important tools that helps businesses manage resources effectively. For retail, one of its key values is in maintaining business services for business continuity, where the high availability of networks must be ensured. DDI is also needed to build and manage policies that can maximize resource usage. It’s especially important for this sector, where everything in a store is connected and is needed to make money – offline and online.
Another important role for DDI is in delivering network resources without delays. For retailers, it can be used to build and manage templates that make it easy to quickly deploy the network infrastructure for a new store, then manage it without having to have IT resources onsite. Using DDI this way is an approach that saves time, reduces risks, and above all reduces time-to-market. Templates can be built and managed centrally, along with device and user policies. Once built, a template can be reused, as well as serve as the hub of any network management platform.
When a new store location is opened, DDI keeps network services running, as everything relies on the DNS for operation. It can be used to quickly add new services as well as reduce security risks by carefully managing third party access to networks – a feature that’s more important after a series of major retail security breaches that resulted from third-party accounts with high network privileges.
With DDI in place you have the tools for both planning and deployment, as well as for ongoing operations. It’s an approach that gives you the flexibility you need to deliver major projects at the same time as adding new services and features to existing online and brick-and-mortar stores.
Retail businesses are changing faster than ever as a result of digital transformations- changes they need to manage and control. In today’s environment this means controlling the business’ network and all the devices that run on it. Managing IP addresses is a key element in delivering that control; control that needs the flexibility and power of DDI.