Scalability and Internet Performance: Top Considerations for Retailers

This week’s blog comes to us from our very own Paul-Emile Bellaloum, Global Project Delivery Manager.  


Back when I started working in the late ‘90s, it was really the beginning of the Internet and DNS. The technology was nice and 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, 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 and 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 putting on more and more pressure to maximize profits, whilst enhancing the customer shopping experience. Although Internet has made it easy for retailers to reach a global audience, the first challenge of high performance is crucial all around the world: users must be served at any time, any moment, from anywhere. Especially for big events like Black Friday 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 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 machines, 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 handle retail challenges is to rely on a fully integrated DDI solution. First, creating new stores in the IT infrastructure can be easily handled through IP Address Management (through the implementation of specific templates). Secondly, to keep consistency of the distributed networks, having a centralized management platform 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 through packages (no need for dedicated appliances) is a true differentiator- a highly available solution capable of serving all remote locations quickly.

This will become even more relevant with next level of omni-channel integration: Amazon Go has been 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. The flow of data which will be going through the servers will be increased: Only those DNS servers with the capability of high traffic absorption, enhanced connectivity and real-time processing will be 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…

Read more details on our DDI for retailer white paper by clicking here.

6 February 2019 This week’s blog comes to us from our very own Paul-Emile Bellaloum, Global Project Delivery Manag...

EfficientIP