The Greater the Flow, the Bigger the Pipe: Part 2

As I said in my previous post, CIOs from leading retailers agreed at a recent conference that the new trend is to move business applications to the cloud. This move has put new strains on local retail locations as they scramble to acquire necessary increases in bandwidth and resiliency. But as the cloud evolves, so do the nation’s wireless 3G and 4G LTE networks. Even though the advantages of wireless access now outweigh wired connectivity, many companies are still reluctant to make the switch.

Based on past experience, this hesitation is completely understandable. Companies and consumers alike know only too well that carriers tend to oversubscribe their networks—and that this can lead to less robust and unpredictable performance. But if you look at the minimum available performance for a carrier network’s 3G or 4G solution relative to a T1 line, wireless performance is now significantly higher. This is due, in no small part, to better failover solutions.

For their part, carriers have made the use of failover both more affordable and less likely. They have devised failover plans and continuity plans that are business friendly and make sense. Companies with primary wired access can now pool across all locations. If an enterprise has two hundred locations, it has two hundred lines. Two hundred lines times 1GB of wireless failover gives it 200 GB. If one location goes down, it has access to that entire 200GB capacity.  This use of wireless failover combined with the ability to pool capacity has reduced the overall cost of failover solutions–and made them more predictable.

The use of wireless as both the primary and the failover connection becomes more attractive as carriers lower the risk of wireless networks going down for significant amounts of time. Even in the direst of circumstances, such as during Hurricane Sandy, carrier trucks equipped with new towers restored wireless access to affected areas in a matter of hours. Compare that to the days and weeks wired internet companies needed to repair or install phone or cable lines amid debris, chaos, and harsh weather.

Restoration of wireless connectivity can be even faster in normal times. For every area where there's a business location, wireless carriers have multiple towers. If one tower has a load issue or technical issue, the carrier can simply route traffic to another tower.  This gives retail businesses that use wireless networks the kind of built-in redundancy and reliability that makes reliance on a single wired connection seem like the act of a riverboat gambler.

Whether as a primary or failover solution, 4G wireless offers retail enterprises unprecedented levels of reliability and capacity. But to access this new world,  enterprises need very intelligent edge routing solutions--solutions that can recognize when failure is imminent and immediately fail over before a connection is lost, and then be smart enough to know when it’s safe to revert to the standard connection and avoid extra costs.

CIOs that attended the retailer conference agreed that the move to the Cloud is bringing unheard of functionality and cost savings to the retail environment. But it is also severely straining current network capacity. Retail organizations are searching for ways to give their distributed locations the bandwidth to do more things. Cradlepoint gives these organizations a platform that cost-effectively provides them with the capacity, reliably, and security they need in the age of the cloud.