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Achieving Network Resilience in Retail Operations

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On the eve of Retail’s BIG Show 2016, Opengear’s Todd Rychecky sat down for an interview discussing Opengear’s experience working with retailers of all sizes – and why achieving network resilience has become increasingly critical in the industry. Opengear’s Resilience Gateway product line continues to expand (including a new release to be announced at the BIG Show), and the company will be available to offer demos and discuss solutions with new and existing customers at Booth #831.

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Opengear Plunges into the Deep Pacific to Help Researchers Bring Internet to the Ocean Floor

Sixty miles north of the Hawaiian island of Oahu and three miles down to the ocean floor sits the ALOHA Cabled Observatory (ACO). Providing real-time oceanographic data through a retired and donated AT&T HAW-4 submarine fiber-optic cable, ALOHA station is the deepest working observatory of its kind, as well as the deepest power node on earth and the deepest location that’s connected to the Internet (so bring your laptop if you’re SCUBA diving around there). Utilizing Opengear technology to safeguard the continued availability of this unique underwater connection, the station includes a hydrophone and pressure sensor, along with instrumentation for measurement and communication of temperature, salinity, currents, acoustics, and video.

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Out-Of-Band Management Delivers Business Resilience

Network downtime is frustrating and very costly to millions of businesses all over the world. Recent network outages at the NYSE, United Airlines and the Wall Street Journal highlight opportunities where out-of-band systems might have helped mitigate the costs and frustrations of network downtime.

Opengear developed this infographic to help illustrate the issues involved and the potential risks that can be mitigated with a solid out-of-band management strategy: (more…)

Opengear and “IT Resilience” at ITExpo in Miami, FL

Opengear participated in the ITExpo conference in Miami, Florida at the end of January. This was the first large event of the year showcasing our Smart OOB™ and Failover to Cellular™ (F2C) solutions. Together, Smart OOB™ and Failover to Cellular™ provide our customers with a high level of IT resilience — the ability to not only recover efficiently from faults, but also prevent these disruptions in the first place. We received an enthusiastic response to our solution.

To better understand what these customers saw and liked, here’s some simple math. (more…)

Cellular OOB: The New Face of Efficient Infrastructure Management (Infographic)

Cellular OOB: The new face of Efficient Infrastructure Management

 As technical teams seek smarter ways to provision, maintain and repair their infrastructure, augmenting out-of-band management with the power of cellular connectivity is the logical next step.

A Cellular Spike:

Practical Returns:

IT resilience is bolstered by:

Sources:

http://pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/mobile-technology-fact-sheet/
http://pweresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/07/08/two-of-every-five-u-s-households-have-only-wireless-phones/
http://gsma.com/connectedliving/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/GSMAi-infographics_MWC14.pdf

 

What Retail Networking can learn from the Pinewood Derby

The Pinewood Derby is an annual tradition of young boy scouts around the world, where they build motorless racecars from a block of wood and become pit crew chiefs for an evening of grand prix excitement. I recently helped my son build his very first pinewood derby car. Together, we picked out the design, cut out the block, sanded and painted it. After a good amount of effort, I dare say our car — which was more of a custom truck — looked pretty sweet, especially since we had made it from a rectangular chunk of wood with really no guide other than a picture of something similar found on the Internet.

When it came time to put the wheels on the truck, I decided it was time to take over and make it as fast as possible within the rules. I made a stop at our local hobby shop where I found pre-polished axles and some graphite powder lubrication, both of which promised to send my boy’s pinewood truck straight to the podium. I snatched them up and headed for the check-out counter.

After waiting in line behind one other customer for 10 minutes, it was finally my turn to pay. Now, I pride myself in my fiscal responsibilities, so one can imagine my shock when the clerk handed back my card and asked for a second form of payment, citing a decline from the credit card company. In the confusion, I offered a second card only to have it be declined as well. At this point, the store owner happened to walk by as I asked the reason for the declines, which made him stop and check the register. As I suspected, the declines weren’t my fault. Instead, it was a retail owner’s worst nightmare — his network connection had failed and he was now unable to process my, or any other credit card. The owner scurried off to see if he could figure out what went wrong with his network muttering something about losing a half an hour of his time in the middle of the day.

How an Opengear solution with Failover to Cellular™ could have saved the day.

Regardless of the size of a retail shop, troubleshooting a network connection issue is the last thing a store manager wants — or should be asked — to do. All too often, the store manager simply calls a centralized support group and then acts as their remote hands and eyes as they manually cycle power on routers or firewalls and report the status. But wouldn’t it be nice if the store manager could be cut completely out of the loop, left to do what they do best?

With an Opengear device, such as an ACM5508-2-Lx-I, serially connected to the in-store networking equipment, this is a reality. As soon as the primary network goes down, the Opengear device starts performing a variety of actions. First, the Opengear device automatically and transparently fails over to a cellular connection so the retail business can resume as if nothing ever happened. In truth, the secondary cellular connection ensures that for customers and employees alike, nothing has happened.

At the same time, Opengear’s Smart OOB™ kicks in sending off SMS alerts to the centralized support group — or business owner’s tech guy — alerting them of the outage and informing them of critical out-of-band network information such as the IP address of the Opengear device where they can establish a VPN connection and access CLIs of any networking equipment connected to the Opengear unit. Automated responses may already be cycling power on affected devices or performing any number of pre-configured actions depending on the fault detected. By the time the out-of-band connection is established between support and the Opengear device, remedial action is well underway and the network is significantly closer to returning to normal operating conditions — all with no noticeable interruption to customers or employees.

Once support has performed any remedial actions — anywhere from simply cycling power on a locked-up router to completely re-configuring a device from an IOS image stored locally on the flash storage of the Opengear unit — the primary Internet connection is gracefully restored with a transparent fail-back.

In case you were wondering about my in-store experience, out of pure coincidence, I happened to have just enough cash in my wallet to pay for my transaction and leave. But it truly was a coincidence as I am like most people today who tend to rely more and more on plastic cash than the paper version. As for the race? Let’s just say that Opengear is much better at making out-of-band management solutions than I am at making chunks of pine go fast.

Failover to Cellular: Another example of customer-driven innovation at Opengear

The productivity loss due to Internet downtime in an enterprise or at remote sites can be staggering making a “failover” Internet connection a necessity for most businesses. A research study conducted by the Aberdeen Group estimated that the industry average cost of downtime was about $110,000 per hour in 2010 and about $212,000 per hour in 2012!

As we head into 2015, that cost is guaranteed to be significantly higher for most organizations, be it retail, healthcare, education, financial services, transportation or any other business. Until very recently, building in redundancy to avoid downtime could easily cost a fortune, making it uneconomical for all but the largest enterprises. However, high-speed 4G LTE cellular technology has been a disruptive technology in this space. A high-speed 4G LTE cellular connection can easily serve as (more…)

Increase ROI With Cellular Out-Of-Band Network and Data Center Management (VIDEO)

There is a revolution underway in out-of-band management. Cellular out-of-band management can help keep you in business during a network outage, increase network availability, minimize disruption and downtime and reduce operating costs.  Get on board!

Opengear is a leading provider of critical infrastructure management solutions delivering advanced console servers, remote management, monitoring and cellular out-of-band products. Opengear cellular out-of-band management solutions deliver increased ROI.

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Announcing the CM7100 Console Server at Interop NY 2014

It was great being at Interop NY 2014 this year, and it was a great opportunity to showcase the newest of our products, the CM7100 Console Server. This seventh generation device delivers a highly reliable and powerful console server that radically simplifies out-of-band access and management of your critical IT and network infrastructure.

While we were sharing our news with expo attendees who visited our booth, we were surprised by a visit from TMCnet, who took a moment to speak with our East Coast Sales Manager, Joe Valha with cameras rolling, which means
you get to experience what it was like to visit our booth, it’s almost like you were there, except for the 15-second promo at the start of the video below:

Embedded Cellular vs External Dongles: Don’t Get Left Hanging

Cellular dongles are akin to acoustic coupler modems of the late 1980's.

Cellular dongles are akin to acoustic coupler modems from the 1980’s.

Enterprises rely on out-of-band management and wired network fail-over using cellular to deliver up-time and quick recovery in the case of a failure. When choosing between embedded or external dongle-based cellular solutions, one might be tempted by the allure of the low price points of dongles. But this thinking is penny-wise and pound-foolish. Unfortunately, for buyers trying to save money in the short term, external dongles will adversely affect the critical functions of (more…)

LTE Leads the Way Forward in M2M Communications, Out-Of-Band Management

As the markets for voice and data mature, carriers are looking to machine-to-machine communications (M2M) to become the new engine of growth. Through connectivity embedded in everyday objects such as lampposts, household appliances and even automobiles, M2M forms the backbone of the rapidly emerging Internet of Things, the blanket term for a worldwide network of IP-enabled devices communicating with each other.

Increasingly, 4G LTE is playing a key role in the rise of M2M, which isn’t surprising given its material advantages over 3G in terms of speed and spectrum utilization. LTE is already well-known as a fast data pipe, but its uses are diverse, covering (more…)

Saving With Cellular Out-Of-Band Management

Connecting cellular to the data centerIn comparison to legacy technologies like modems, 3G and 4G LTE are superior technologies to use for out-of-band access. When organizations opt for out-of-band management solutions like the Opengear IM7200, they get a best-of-breed cellular wireless connection that is becoming faster and more cost effective over time.

Today’s 3G is able to support a variety of out-of-band management needs. A February 2014 report from OpenSignal found that the average 3G network worldwide offered download speeds around 1.8 Mbps. While this is lower than the 7.5 Mbps average for 4G LTE, it is still significantly better than the download and upload speeds available on a 56K modem typically used for out-of-band. Considering that a 2013 report from the U.S. FCC found that (more…)