01. Control via cloud management
The old-fashioned model of IT maintenance was to have staff physically attend routers to implement changes. It’s preposterously laborious. The cloud model changes that. Now, engineers can control the network across a wide range of geographic locations and device types, from anywhere in the world.
Retail giant American Apparel embraced cloud management for its 260 stores. American Apparel director of store IT infrastructure Osvaldo Hurtado says: “Many of our store employees are not technically savvy. By having the tools to manage our routers through the cloud, we don’t require IT staff at every store location. We can do it from headquarters.”
02. Implement a failover solution
If the internet goes down, a store or business will be crippled and exposed to risks of lost revenue, productivity and customer experience issues. A failover solution provides a second connection that kicks in when needed to mitigate these risks.
Raising Cane’s is a fast-growing chicken restaurant chain based in Louisiana with locations in more than 15 states in the US. It used to rely on dial-up internet as a back-up solution. Not only was this too slow, it didn’t support the newest PCI (payment card industry) DSS 3.0 security standards for credit card processing.
Vince Severns, Raising Cane’s vice president of information technology, implemented a Cradlepoint AER2100 dual-modem device for each restaurant for primary connectivity and cellular 4G LTE as a failover solution. “If our primary wired internet connection fails, then the network automatically switches over to 4G LTE back-up,” says Mr Severns. “The store managers typically don’t even notice that they’ve flipped over to 4G. In fact, in some cases the Cradlepoint connection is faster than the existing primary connection. When our auditors tested the Cradlepoint AER2100, they saw for themselves that it meets the new PCI standards.”
Today a restaurant can endure a broadband failure with zero impact. As a bonus, the new router eliminated two phone lines, for dial-up and fax, reducing the break-even cost of the new hardware to less than 24 months.
03. Embrace the internet of things
This is the age of the connected device. Consumers are buying internet-connected kettles and light bulbs, and businesses are inundated with internet of things (IoT) devices – air conditioning, CCTV cameras, alarms, point-of-sale machines, vending machines, rat-traps… the list goes on.
Every device on the network is an on-ramp and subject to security risks. The problem is connecting and managing a broad array of devices, while maintaining security and control. The best way to do this is with a purpose-built 4G LTE router. Features should include remote security monitoring, geo-fencing and GPS functionality. This means if an ATM machine is moved away from its location, an alarm can be triggered. Also, IoT coupled with cloud management enables real-time analytics, and alerts for security and health of devices on the network.
This is the age of the connected device. Consumers are buying internet-connected kettles and light bulbs, and businesses are inundated with internet of things devices
04. Go mobile
Vehicles out on the road need maximum connectivity. This includes police vehicles, food vans at music festivals, buses and pop-up shops with no time to organise a fixed-line connection. A 4G LTE router can offer super-fast connectivity, with a host of additional benefits.
Let’s start with the connectivity. Vending Trucks, Inc. supplies vehicles to a range of companies with one thing in common: they demand always-on internet. No black spots. Crew need to send live Twitter feeds, run large-screen TVs on the side of trucks, stream audio, as well as access the internet in general. Vending Trucks opted for a Cradlepoint COR router. This is a fully integrated router/bridge, integrated 4G modem, a ruggedised metal housing certified for shock and vibration, external 3G/4G and wi-fi antennas.
Black spots are eliminated in two ways. First, the router can leapfrog from one mobile network to another to find the strongest signal. Second, cloud management gives the IT team the ability to find alternative connectivity. Vending Truck technology director Justin Lesbirel says: “Let’s say one of our customers is in a poor wireless network coverage area, but they’re next to a building that has wi-fi available. With Enterprise Cloud Manager, I can remotely sync the truck’s setting to use the building’s wi-fi as a LAN. Then I can take care of all their data usage and monitoring, and send them reports directly from the cloud manager.”
05. Improve network security
The threat posed by hackers and malware ought to be clear. Less well understood is the role the router plays as a gatekeeper, guarding the network from intruders. It is vital that enterprises adopt router technologies that actively protect the network. These include regular updates, implemented via a cloud management system for immediate effect. The router may need to segment applications and data sets, with varying security policies.
Parallel networks or physically air-gapping networks can keep sensitive data, such as PCI or US HIPAA-subject (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) applications, isolated on their own completely separate network. Without physically air-gapping the network, hackers could possibly uncover vulnerabilities in network segmentation and pivot from non-critical applications, such as the customer wi-fi, to gain sensitive information, such as credit card details.
This is the reason utilising parallel networks is a hot topic in security. Parallel networks also combat the sort of errors that hit the retailer Target in the United States. Hubert Da Costa, vice president, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, of Cradlepoint, recalls: “An air-conditioning engineer logged in to the Target network to fix a unit. The laptop had malware installed and the hacker pivoted from the HVAC system to the point-of-sale system and 15 million accounts were breached. Demand for routers and best-in-breed security applications, which would have prevented that breach, rocketed overnight.”
The right router coupled with the right cloud management can bring critical advantages to all companies, from startups to global enterprises. The Cradlepoint range of primary and 4G LTE cloud-managed routers can address these and other key business issues. They all enable PCI compliance, ensuring bank and enterprise-grade security for sensitive transactions.
Cradlepoint supplies routers and cloud management software to half of Fortune 100 companies and 75 per cent of the world’s top 25 retailers.
For more information please visit Cradlepoint.com