Scaling Retail Networks with SASE
3 Strategic Approaches to Scaling Retail Networks with SASE
In an era dominated by digital transformation, organizations worldwide are embracing Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and other public cloud services to enhance the agility, efficiency and flexibility of their foundational business systems. Facing rising demand for data center resources, many retail and restaurant enterprises are seeking to expand their cloud footprints in a secure and highly scalable way to enable seamless in-store and online buying experiences.
Amidst this evolution, one key question arises: Can your network and security infrastructure scale—as needed—to meet the escalating demands driven by a surge in cloud usage?
In this blog, you’ll learn the enormous value to be gained from implementing scalable growth as part of your retail or restaurant infrastructure with SASE (Secure Access Service Edge).
Why scalability is a necessity in retail networks
Computer and communications networks support most, if not all, technologies running across today’s retail and restaurant industries. A resilient and well-managed network is essential to maintaining the diverse retail applications businesses require while delivering the modern experiences consumers expect. From established high-fashion brands to emerging fast-food startups, these businesses rely on their networks to fuel multiple technologies, including point-of-sale (POS) systems, machine-to-machine comms, digital signage, inventory management, employee mobile devices and various other technologies.
Retailers also deal with vast amounts of company and customer data, potentially spread across many locations and territories. As retailer and restaurant leaders expand their operations to compete and grow, the need for scalable network solutions becomes more critical. Traditional networks often struggle to accommodate the growing demands of a distributed retail environment, where multiple locations, varying application needs and diverse user access points contribute to the complexity.
The growing trend of providing Wi-Fi access to brick-and-mortar customers adds another layer of network complexity. Retailers must carefully manage customer usage to prevent interference with in-store systems. Moreover, ensuring the separation of guest network traffic from the store’s protected systems is crucial to preventing cybersecurity breaches or other attacks.
All this complexity makes establishing and managing a swift and scalable network indispensable for retailers. Now, more than ever, the lack of networking scalability puts retail and restaurant leaders at a substantial competitive disadvantage. As in-store and online buying experiences merge, the demands on retail networks spike especially during peak shopping seasons, so does the need for immediate, secure access to ever-greater bandwidth. Meeting these bandwidth requirements requires retailers to not just assess current needs but to anticipate future demands, especially during peak times.
Making the case for SASE: 3 strategic approaches
SASE is more than an enabling technology; it’s a framework for integrating network and security. It’s also the connective tissue between the endlessly scalable infrastructure and your ever-evolving business—seamlessly aligning SaaS and cloud services to meet dynamic requirements. In that respect, SASE doesn’t merely prepare your business for change; it helps you plan for it. So, whether you’re navigating the complexities of data security, managing the costs of rapid expansion or pushing the boundaries of performance, SASE solutions help your infrastructure maximize efficiency and agility while helping you maintain continuity.
Lumen provides SD-WAN as a transformational network, marking the first step in your SASE journey. With a “grow as you go” approach, you can seamlessly upgrade your network and security capabilities over time, building on the transformative power of SD-WAN.
In the course of successfully guiding and equipping Lumen customers, our team of network specialists has identified three strategic approaches that can help IT decision makers win with SASE. Here’s a closer look at those approaches and some of the software offerings embedded in the Lumen® SASE framework.
- Optimizing visibility and control
Visibility is a powerful thing. By centralizing network and security policy management, retail organizations can gain visibility and control of application access, optimize application performance for distributed sales and retail staff, and enhance the shopping experience for customers everywhere.
Why it matters: A granular view across your entire network—and the ability to control your resources in real time—empowers you to enhance customer satisfaction wherever and whenever necessary.
How it strengthens security: Control and visibility are essential for ensuring the security of customer and business data. Retailers deal with sensitive information, and having robust control mechanisms helps prevent unauthorized access and potentially costly, disruptive breaches.
How it drives efficiency: By gaining (and maintaining) optimized control, retailers can streamline operations, fit resources to the business needs and respond promptly to any issues. This, in turn, contributes to smoother business operations and enhanced overall efficiency.
- Simplifying deployment and management: To simplify deployment and management of your network, leverage the expertise of Lumen Managed Services to help you solve for your toughest technology problems. In addition, you can procure Lumen services from our digital marketplace. And flexibly connect your retail locations to corporate headquarters, private data centers and cloud partners.
Why it matters: Simplified deployment and management help to reduce the time and complexity required to administer your network—freeing you to focus on core business operations. It also provides flexibility and connectivity across all your retail locations while keeping your network agile and responsive.
How it delivers cost savings: Simplified deployment and secure management of network resources mean minimized complexity in maintaining the network infrastructure. This can result in cost savings as it minimizes the overall investment necessary for ongoing maintenance and support.
How it enables time savings: In today’s fast-paced retail environments, time is of the essence. Removing the complexity of deployment and management helps to ensure that new technologies or updates can be implemented quickly to help keep your teams focused on meeting customer expectations.
- Implementing dynamic scaling
Best-in-breed network and security management software offerings flex dynamically to add store locations, apps and users. They scale quickly and offer goods and services to more shoppers. These technologies also secure your in-store connections, guest Wi-Fi and staff access and protect your inventory with fully managed switching, cameras and security.
Why it matters: The ability to dynamically handle surges in demand during critical shopping seasons is paramount to competing and winning in modern retail. It’s all part of maintaining your connections, protecting your inventory and securing the shopping environment.
How it adapts on demand: Rapid fluctuations in engagement are increasingly common, especially during peak seasons or promotions. Dynamic scaling shifts network and security resources as needed.
How it enables future readiness: As retailers expand and adapt to market changes, dynamic scaling empowers the future readiness crucial for long-term sustainability and business growth.
SASE use cases
How SASE can help power and secure the retail industry:
- Maintain productivity for highly distributed sales and retail staff
- Secure application access from any device for selected users
- Centralize network and security policies for simplified management
- Segment customer and internal application experiences
- Relieve strain on IT resources with pro-managed monitoring and maintenance of the entire solution
Benefits of SASE
To enhance customer shopping experiences, and merge in-store and online buying experiences, retailers strive for seamless and reliable app performance. Routing traffic over the ideal network can make that happen. SASE also helps to maintain essential customer trust, protecting consumer data and supporting PCI compliance for any user on any device, from virtually any location. To avoid complexity, SASE can help simplify the segmentation of security policies for organization and shopper types.
Achieve network security and scalability with Lumen SASE
The ability to expand the pace of innovation quickly and securely across your business is key to staying competitive, helping to ensure enhanced in-store and online buying experiences for your customers That’s made adopting SASE a critical step for retail and restaurant industry decision makers.
This transformative technology not only meets the current challenges around network security and scalability; it sets the stage for a future-ready, agile and resilient retail network that caters to the evolving needs of the business and exceeds the expectations of the modern shopper.
This content is provided for informational purposes only and may require additional research and substantiation by the end user. In addition, the information is provided “as is” without any warranty or condition of any kind, either express or implied. Use of this information is at the end user’s own risk. Lumen does not warrant that the information will meet the end user’s requirements or that the implementation or usage of this information will result in the desired outcome of the end user. All third-party company and product or service names referenced in this article are for identification purposes only and do not imply endorsement or affiliation with Lumen. This document represents Lumen products and offerings as of the date of issue.