3 min read

The complexities and costs of IT network management and security in retail stores has reached a breaking point. Some could argue we are well passed the breaking point already.

Today’s retail IT professional, point-of-sale (POS) reseller, or managed IT service provider (MSP) is struggling to effectively deploy, manage, and secure the network in these branch locations in an efficient and affordable way.

Branch Technology Sprawl

Branch locations of the retail enterprise are more connected than ever and reliant on always-on, secure network performance. Over the years and intensified by continual digital transformation, the retail branch WAN has come to include many siloed technology solutions – POS systems, Wi-Fi routers, cellular failover modems, firewalls, switches, digital signage, and an array of network-connected IoT devices. This “branch technology sprawl” has resulted in complex, expensive, and inflexible infrastructure.

Furthermore, securing this network for optimal uptime and protecting sensitive data in today’s world of POS intrusions has become another layer of complexity. IT organizations have deployed a variety of security point-solutions such as next-gen firewalls, VPN, intrusion detection systems, anti-virus, and data encryption. These solutions, typically from various vendors, result in both overlaps and gaps in security while creating additional cost and complexity.

The Future of Retail IT is SD-Branch

Fortunately, these challenges can be solved, and SD-Branch platforms are becoming the new standard for retail IT network management and security.

Software-defined branch (SD-Branch) is defined as a single hardware platform that enables SD-WAN, network routing, security, WAN optimization, LAN and Wi-Fi functions, cellular failover, and virtualized network functions (VNF). SD-Branch converges all these functions into an easy-to-deploy platform that can also be centrally managed via the cloud.

8 Things to Know About SD-Branch

SD-Branch is the closest thing to a “branch network-in-a-box” and offers greatly improved operational agility – driving innovation while reducing risk. To get started with SD-Branch, it is important to know the following business benefits and selection criteria.

  1. IT organizations can rapidly deploy a new location with the plug-and-play edge appliance and remotely provision network services and configurations via the orchestration panel.
  2. SD-Branch eliminates the need for on-site IT personnel or “truck rolls” for deployments and configurations resulting in big cost savings and the opportunity to focus resources on higher-value initiatives.
  3. More and more applications at the branch utilize the Internet instead of expensive MPLS. SD-Branch utilizes SD-WAN architecture to allow each branch to “bring your own broadband” and have the flexibility to choose cheaper connectivity and also integrate security.
  4. Integrated cellular connectivity for automatic failover ensures the retail branch can operate without interruption during a broadband interruption.
  5. Some SD-Branch solutions include integrated firewall and VPN security as well as PCI DSS compliance management which is a must for retail merchants.
  6. Not all SD-Branch use cases are the same. Choose a solution right-sized for your business. While some solutions are designed for large branch offices, Netsurion BranchSDO is designed specifically for the needs of small footprint retail branch location.
  7. Managed SD-Branch services offer an all-in-one package, but carefully review if the provider can truly deliver the promised synergy. Ask whether the provider owns the edge appliance hardware, orchestration software, and the first-hand offers the managed service.
  8. Practical and efficient management of the branch network usually involves an MSP. Choose an MSP that delivers a complete SD-Branch solution.