The following provides a list of Frequently Asked and Should Ask questions, designed to ensure that the network you subscribe to provides all the features and functionality you need to efficiently and securely run a network that meets a retail organisation’s business needs.
The follow questions come from the personal insight gained when I was Head of IT for a retail organisation. They are also based on feedback from many of our personal customers with regard to what they say they need from an MPLS network.
We’ve also researched all the RFIs and ITT documents that we’ve received over the years and pulled out all the common (and some less so common) questions that have been asked by potential customers.
We’ve listed questions that cover 3 main areas:
• The Network
• Service Level Agreements
NOTE: We’ve also provided answers to help you understand what kind of response you should be looking to get.
Q 1. Store availability is key, how do you provide resilience at each branch location?
A 1. The most cost effective option is to deploy ADSL 2+ or ADSL MAX technology where 2+ is not available. For complete piece of mind, N+ 1 are best using 2 separate Tier 1 Service Providers. This configuration offers both failover capability in the branch and means that separate LLU equipment is utilised in the local exchange, further reducing any single point of failure.
Using 3G or 4G backup is another effective alternative, providing the CPE (Customer Premise Equipment) supports this feature. It is often cheaper however, to deploy a second MPLS line with a separate Tier 1 provider than using a mobile service.
You should also consider planning for the worst-case scenario, where connectivity is down for a prolonged period of time due to Service Provider network problems, and where your branch has only one connection.
In this situation, Blaze Networks will ship a 3G or 4G router to the location on a next business day delivery. There is no extra charge for this service. If you have purchased our retail MPLS network offering you gain access to next business day delivery of 3G or 4G equipment and our engineers will proactively contact the store to restore connectivity and allow trading as normal.
Blaze Networks have numerous options for on premises equipment that support both fixed line broadband and 3G or 4G backup through a single piece of routing equipment.
We proactively work with you to design the most cost effective and business critical solution to maximise the potential for 100% uptime across your estate.
Q 2. Can you offer 99.99% uptime and how do you achieve this?
A 2. There are 2 considerations here, the core network and the branch access. As explained, there are a number of ways of ensuring failover capability and increased uptime in the network access points through the deployment of N+1 redundancy capabilities.
The same is applicable in the core of the network. You should be looking for a network provider who uses the same high availability N+1 configuration principles in the core of their network.
Q 3. Can’t I use the much cheaper alternative of VPN?
A 3. Retailers should not consider VPN technologies to link their retail branch locations to their head office firewall. VPN solutions are directly connected to the public Internet and as such, offer a point of entry into the network at every store. Regardless of configuration, a VPN device that is made available on the public Internet is deemed as an entry point by the PCI-DSS Security Council and therefore increases the risk of security breaches.
Our MPLS network offers the retailer only two entry points into the entire network. These two points are typically the network’s core Datacentre and the customer’s head office. Both of which have greater investment in security technology, making your network more secure and less vulnerable to security breaches.
This is not a definitive list by any means, but will help you to evaluate the most appropriate and cost effective solution for your business.
“Blaze Networks’ Retail MPLS Network has provided us with a very resilient branch infrastructure, enabling us to provide a great service to our customers. They proactively contact stores and fix any issue before it becomes business impacting.
Excellent company to work with, who truly understand our industry and business requirements.”
Company Secretary, Collectables Retail
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