To safeguard the network connectivity critical to everyday business operations across its nationwide retail stores, delivery centers, and data centers – and to help streamline and accelerate the setup of new locations – a large U.S furniture business selected Opengear to provide reliable, secure cellular out-of-band management.
The company is growing its retail operation across a few dozen store locations, serviced by several delivery warehouses, and data centers. At each of these sites, the availability of network connectivity is fundamental to business continuity. Any downtime could hamper revenue opportunities and brand perception, making network resilience a significant priority.
In early 2017, the retailer underwent a dynamic multipoint virtual private network (DMVPN) rollout, which required transitioning all locations to MPLS primary connectivity and a commodity internet. The project also called for a cellular backup solution with emergency failover functionality. “For me, the highest concern in selecting a cellular backup solution was its stability – the availability it offered,” said a network engineer in charge of the project. “When we need it most, a backup solution instantly becomes our primary connection, so it just has to work. A backup isn’t any good if you need a backup to your backup; it has to be available and functional all the time.”
Because such solutions utilize public LTE networks, the retailer also needed technology that could provide robust security features, ensuring that the added cellular connectivity would not offer a potential vector for hackers to gain access into the business’ systems.
The retailer’s technical leaders discovered Opengear through its annual exhibition at Cisco Live US – the popular conference for IT, networking, and communications professionals – and was impressed with the product line and extended feature set Opengear could offer (especially as a solution providing emergency failover to cellular LTE backup connectivity). Confident in its decision to partner with Opengear, the new customer began implementing Opengear solutions throughout its locations.
The retailer now uses Opengear ACM7008-2-LMV Resilience Gateways at each of its furniture stores and warehouses, and has Opengear IM7232-2-DAC-LV-US Infrastructure Managers at its data center locations. With Opengear’s solutions in place, the retailer has effectively established resilient connectivity with smooth, automatic failover to an out-of-band cellular LTE backup connection throughout its organization. Beyond adding a capable backup, Opengear’s LTE connectivity also offers the ability to perform Day One provisioning of the out-of-band network, making it possible to bring new sites online as soon as Opengear equipment is installed.
From a security standpoint, the customer now has the ability to create firewall policies on its Opengear devices. This ensures the cellular connectivity never expands entry points to the network and that malicious actors cannot access systems. The team also pushed to become an early adopter of Lighthouse 5, the revamped version of Opengear’s platform for centralized out-of-band management and resilient access to IT infrastructure.
The furniture company has found Opengear to provide a largely set-it-and-forget-it solution, which delivers considerable peace of mind that network connectivity will remain available throughout disruptive incidents. “When our MPLS connection does go down, we don’t necessarily know it – we don’t get flooded with phone calls from the location, because Opengear’s pick-up over LTE is seamless,” explained the retailer’s network engineer. “Because this technology is running, the idea of downtime is no longer something that I lose sleep over. I’ve been in other large retail organizations where when there’s some storm or natural disaster or something else that affects the broader carrier infrastructure, it causes panic because you don’t know what you’re going to lose and for how long. But with Opengear providing LTE-powered backup, you just don’t worry about it.”
In initializing the infrastructure of its three newest store locations, the company has relied on Opengear’s LTE modem functionality to establish remote connectivity and perform site setup activities, successfully putting racks and systems in place prior to the MPLS circuit delivery. In another case that exemplifies Opengear’s value, one of the customer’s outlets suffered a severe circuit outage that lasted for several weeks, leaving the store without its primary method of connectivity. However, the store was able to connect exclusively through Opengear’s LTE connection throughout that time and was able to continue business operations without any issues.
When it comes to Opengear’s Lighthouse 5 network management platform and dashboard, the customer’s team has found significant utility in the software’s intuitive UI and its ability to rapidly communicate if devices are online and available. The retailer has also taken advantage of new Lighthouse 5 features such as device self-enrollment and the ability to create and push configurations to multiple devices rather than needing to manage them individually. The team also reports high marks for Opengear’s support structure, citing its ability to provide timely responses and actionable best practices to any questions that arise.