Retail chains all over the world have been investigating network transformation in order to improve customer experience and reduce overhead. Retail services today have evolved to be more and more diversified, including virtual fitting room in fast fashion trends, online demo video of suites in hotels and real estates, as well as real-time inventory checks for clerks and customers. All these newly innovated services need a better bandwidth, more cost-effective WAN architecture to meet customer satisfaction.
No matter the company scale, retails all over the world are highly cost-driven in order to retain profitability. Additional investments in networking hardware for their new branches, headquarters, warehouse, and campaign locations to improve connectivity and bandwidth are inefficient in today’s competitive retail industry. Therefore, SD-WAN (software-defined WAN) has become the optimal networking architecture for retail businesses.
Conventional router-centric WAN architectures have proved to be inefficient to budget and deployment time, particularly for retail applications. On the other hand, SD-WAN can be deployed onto generic hardware, freeing retail owners from unnecessary, additional expenses in purchasing dedicated routers. By implementing generic hardware, WAN architecture becomes simpler to manage and configure, and hardware costs can be reduced.
In addition, the software nature of SD-WAN allows prioritization of network resources and traffic, allowing retail owners to improve the bandwidth and performance for specific services or apps through the Internet or MPLS, wherever less traffic. Therefore, a white-box uCPE (universal customer premise equipment) with the following technological requirements would best fit the needs of retail SD-WAN deployments:
- High-Performance Processor
When implementing generic, white-box uCPE hardware, processor performance is crucial to the serviceability, since the device has to run multiple cloud apps and execute network computing, such as load-balancing and traffic routing. In other words, compute performance is key for a white-box uCPE to run multiple VNFs (virtualized network functions).
- High Availability – Redundant PSU
Retail is known for its long operating hours, and thus redundant power supply and high-availability are critical to global-scale retailers.
- Hardware-assisted Crypto Engine
Multi-site retailers may hold a substantial number of consumer personal data, even including sensitive information. Therefore, security is one of the priority in the SD-WAN uCPE. A reliable mechanism is hardware-based cryptographic engine to accelerate the crypto-process to ensure data security.
- Highly Scalable Design
As mentioned, retail is a cost-driven business, and any additional expense in the purchase of new equipment to add functionality is not considered as an ideal solution. Hence, scalability is an important consideration in the deployment of white-box uCPE to host the SD-WAN.
For retailers, SD-WAN decouples the software from hardware, and uses a white-box uCPE to converge multiple vendor software VNFs, including surveillance, Point-of-Sale, in-store Wi-Fi, VoIP and virtual firewall, so that tremendous overhead can be reduced in the maintenance of network architecture.
To accelerate deployments in retail environment, Lanner introduced its 1U rackmount white-box appliance NCA-5520, to converge multiple VNFs and enable ZTP (zero-touch provisioning). NCA-5520 possesses all the capabilities to enable pure-play virtualization and interoperability with multi-vendor software. In fact, this high-performance white-box appliance has been pre-validated as the NFVi hardware platform to run ADVA’s consolidated network functions.
Lanner’s NCA-5520 is powered by 2nd generation Intel Xeon Scalable Processor Family to offer high-performance, high-throughputs and crypto-acceleration. As a high-availability system, the white-box hardware platform is built with redundant power supply. Regarding scalability, NCA-5520 comes with 4 NIC module slots for connection with Lanner’s F.A.S.T. (flexibility, adaptability, scalability and transformability) modules to expand functionality, connectivity or bandwidth, for instance, 100G Ethernet modules.