You’ve Got Fire and Flood Insurance, But are You Prepared For a Network Emergency?

Emergency Preparedness

During National Preparedness Month, Take Steps to Keep Your Network Connected

The federal government has floods, wildfires, hurricanes, and power outages in mind as it encourages Americans to “make [their] emergency plan[s] today” as part of their designation of September as National Preparedness Month. But, if you are involved in your business’s IT strategy, there is one more emergency to add to that list: loss of business-critical network connectivity.

This is especially true if your business involves distributed operations such as retail stores, fast-food restaurants, mobile fleets, public transportation vehicles, or emergency response teams.

Financial Losses are Just the Beginning

The immediate financial price retail outlets pay for loss of Internet connectivity has been well documented by the research firm Gartner. In its 2014 report “The Cost of Downtime,” Gartner estimates that loss of Internet connectivity can cost the average distributed enterprise as much as $300,000 per hour. However, that is not the only cost. Others include:

  • Risk of invoking non-PCI compliance charges for leaving your credit card data open to security risks and fraud
  • Cessation of all online inventory management processes
  • Business disruption as cloud-based applications for communications, security, and data storage stop synching
  • Need for costly truck rolls to restore Internet connectivity
  • Damage to your brand as consumers are unable to find you online or use their personal digital devices in your store

“Network outages can delay credit card transactions. That’s a big deal for us,” says the IT infrastructure manager of a large quick-service restaurant chain. “If one of our restaurants’ drive-thru has 15 cars in it and it takes an additional 30 seconds to process each order, you can see the impact on customer service.”

A Better Way

In these hyper-connected days, with many distributed enterprises moving mission-critical applications to the cloud, the importance of branch locations to keep their LAN and WAN up and running 24/7 cannot be overstated. Connectivity is important not only for retail Point-of-Sales systems, but for branch and mobile offices too.

In the past, network administrators had to manage their network by essentially “flying blind” — troubleshooting networks only after they had gone down. This might mean having location managers check connections, run devices through a power cycle or, if all else failed, send a defective device back to the corporate office. It also might mean the dreaded truck roll: sending a technician to a remote location to fix or replace the device. Either way, lost business and repair costs could take a big bite out of the bottom line.

Network administrators at distributed enterprises are charged with remotely managing hundreds or even thousands of branch locations. They need to ensure network reliability, provide constant access to diagnostic tools, and keep a close eye on total cost of network infrastructure ownership. Success means investing in highly resistant network infrastructure to proactively avoid unplanned network disruptions or downtime.

Simple Fix, Complicated Problem

When you consider the significant cost of network downtime — and how easy it is to prevent such interruptions — there is little reason for companies to leave themselves unprotected. Cradlepoint has worked hard to develop its expertise serving the network connectivity needs of enterprises that work at the Edge. We understand that, in slicing through a wired line, even just a distracted backhoe operator can cripple a retail location. An errant lightning bolt can put a quick-service restaurant at significant competitive disadvantage. That’s why we work so hard to make it easy to avoid Internet downtime.

Using various strategies, each of our wireless routers enables companies to quickly acquire network failover. Our Cradlepoint ARC CBA850, for instance, provides a turnkey networking solution for best-in-breed 3G/4G/LTE failover. It integrates seamlessly with existing network infrastructure to extend management capability to any primary router Out-of-Band — without a static IP. Equipped with Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), it can be placed just about anywhere to save space and optimize cellular reception. By instantly restoring interrupted Internet connectivity, this one device prevents locations at the Edge from suffering the many pains of network downtime.

WAN Diversity, Intelligent Failover, and 'Cutting-the-Wire'

Cradlepoint offers customers a great deal of flexibility in how they can establish and maintain network connectivity to distributed locations. Devices such as our CBA850 enable enterprises to failover from wired to wireless Internet connectivity. Other Cradlepoint devices use dual cellular modems to provide WAN Diversity, the convergence of wired and wireless for primary Edge routing. This diversity gives enterprises the ability to deploy multiple wireless backup connections, load-balance, and attain 99.99% uptime for intelligent failover.

Organizations that forego a wired line as their primary connection no longer fear severed cables. By “Cutting-the-Wire” and using Cradlepoint as the primary connection, they combine high-speed 4G LTE from multiple carriers to achieve virtually uninterrupted Internet access.

Whichever strategy your organization chooses to prepare itself for loss of Internet connectivity, it’s better to take action sooner than later. As with high winds and torrential rains, there is no way to predict when you might suddenly lose network connectivity. When “taking action” involves little more than plugging in a state-of-the-art, time-tested wireless device, there is no good reason to be unprepared.