For both retailers and financial sector organisations, the business environment gets tougher by the year. Data consumption is ever increasing. Customers have come to expect an ever-more digital experience — and competition is through the roof.
What’s more, there’s the constant threat of cyber crime to worry about and plan for, as well as the pressures of new regulations, such as GDPR and MiFID II.
As a result of all this, companies in both retail and finance need digital transformation, to constantly and consistently update their IT infrastructure in order to keep up.
The question is, is there a solution that can offer all this to both these industries? The short answer is yes — Dynamic Network Services.
For the longer answer, read on…
Dynamic Network Services use technology like Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN), to bring speed, agility, security, flexibility and compliance to a network environment, all in a cost-effective way.
It’s worth noting here that you could treat Dynamic Network Services in one of two ways, as a DIY project or as a managed service. If you decide to take it on yourself, you need to be aware that although the final service is simple, the road to it is extremely complex, and requires a highly skilled IT team. Managed services on the other hand provides more of a balance between access to the right technical expertise and the simplicity of user controlled interaction.
Overall, Dynamic Network Services is a step towards digital transformation that would benefit any organisation in any industry. Retail and finance, however, stand to gain in a variety of unique ways, which we’ll outline now.
We’ve identified five use cases for Dynamic Network Services that cover both retail and finance.
We often receive calls from both financial services providers and retailers, saying: “We’re opening a branch next week, and we need it to be connected.” Well, fibre services and a traditional network model can take up to 90 days to set up, so that’s out of the question. But with SD-WAN, we can set up a network using the internet or 4G connectivity in a matter of days. That way the branch can start trading immediately, and simply wait for the full network to be installed 90 days later.
We are also moving to a world of virtualised network functions. These are software or virtual instances of traditional appliance based network functions such as firewalls, routers, acceleration devices, application management capabilities. They will sit on Virtual CPE, typically either blade servers deployed in traditional appliances or on generic x86 hardware platforms deployed on customer site or depending on fibre access at the service provider edge node.
Dynamic Network Services offer a pay-as-you-consume model that gives organisations a huge amount of flexibility. It means a company can purchase a base-level of bandwidth to cover its general needs, but have the option to increase that bandwidth on demand. This means a retailer or a bank could make sure that they have the bandwidth they need to cover a special offer that they know will be popular, or a time of the year, such as Black Friday. The service is implemented via a portal and can be activated within just 15 minutes.
Both retailers and financial services providers have wide-ranging networks. These networks encompass multiple apps, all important to the running of the business, but some more important than others. So ensuring that those organisations have a clear view of the performance of all apps is paramount. As is the ability to prioritise certain apps at certain times. This is the sort of flexibility and insight you can get from SD-WAN. With it, a retailer could ensure that their EPOS system always takes priority, no matter what, for example.
When you deal with sensitive customer data, it’s imperative that you meet regulations regarding the security of that information. The public internet is inherently less secure and stable than MPLS, but it’s more ubiquitous and can be cheaper and more flexible. With Dynamic Network Services, you get the best of both worlds. You can choose what traffic to put over what network. This means that the most sensitive data can be routed over the MPLS, while other data can be put over the internet (with a security wrap-around, of course). This allows you to both comply with data regulations and reassure customers that their information is secure.
Known as Network Service Integration (NSI), this capability enables multiple underlying network services to be managed as if they were one. NSI allows for a different type of service agreement between customer and service provider. Instead of focusing on whether a particular part of a network is ‘up’ or ‘down’ and associating penalties with failure, NSI enables business services such as critical applications to be guaranteed. It does this by using Dynamic Network Services to separate the overall network service from the underlying physical network components. This type of guarantee is only an option thanks to consistency and reliability of Dynamic Network Services.