Today more than ever, fast and uninhibited internet connections on every device we use no is longer a luxury – it is a requirement.
Gone are the days of dealing with spotty service and slow data. If something isn’t loading quickly enough or properly on a phone, laptop or tablet, you’re going to notice that deficiency immediately.
It will likely pull you right out of what is expected to be a seamless, immersive experience – especially if those lackluster speeds are preventing you from finishing that video without buffering or completing tasks quickly and efficiently.
And, as more and more businesses move essential applications to the cloud, it is mission critical that their network connections are impervious to outages. In a modern world of constant connectivity, both in business and personal lives, an Internet outage translates into “time is money.”
In November, many customers who relied on the country’s major Internet providers experienced a service outage for 90 minutes, causing panic and affecting livelihoods.
A simple misconfiguration error produced inaccurate information about the performance of IP addresses, leading Internet providers to make routing decisions that cause packets to either slow down or stop.
While this situation can be corrected by remediating the misconfiguration, this can take time to identify and fix. The problem can also be circumvented by Internet providers by re-routing traffic to a different operating backbone. However, each scenario means an outage has already occurred.
Although outages alone often are enough to prompt people to look for alternatives, constant network connectivity issues can slow the pace of production and set the stage for necessary adjustments. One such adjustment that businesses – and auto dealerships, specifically – have been making is the jump to Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN).
Fast, reliable connections are critical for a dealership, which relies on the network to engage with a variety of cloud-hosted applications, including sales processing, service management, parts catalogs, OEM interactions and the dealer management system.
While a rock-solid network connection is imperative for backend dealer operations, it also plays a major role in creating a seamless customer experience. A dealer’s local network must support computers available to its sales team, service advisers, technicians and office personnel, while also ensuring an uninterrupted experience that leaves a lasting, positive impact on customers.
SD-WAN works like a network traffic cop, ensuring traffic gets where it needs to go as efficiently as possible.
It uses the benefits of the cloud, the bandwidth of broadband and existing enterprise-wide network infrastructure to more efficiently and cost-effectively transmit media and quickly access cloud applications from every location in the network.
For many who implemented SD-WAN prior to the widespread outage in November, business continuity was maintained and no negative impact was experienced. It’s likely most did not realize an outage had even occurred until they heard about it after the fact.
In addition to being able to manage all network traffic more effectively, SD-WAN allows dealers to devote more network bandwidth to the cloud applications that are most important in their workflows and enable business continuity with features such as brownout detection and prevention and failover remediation.
These features are essential to providing a seamless experience for dealers, especially when a significant outage occurs, but even when an Internet provider might be feeling the strain in a particular area whose usage demands are unusually high.
While this technology continues to be rolled out across a number of industries, it has yet to fully catch on in auto retailing. But as auto dealerships continue to rely more heavily on the Internet for essential, daily business operations, key decision makers should understand SD-WAN benefits.
Even though many businesses would simply choose to install more circuits, outages such as the one in November – and the subsequent downtime suffered by many – prove this is no longer a viable option.
Having more than one circuit is essential, but dealers should seek diverse paths to the Internet from different providers while relying on a solution such as SD-WAN. It no is longer a buzzword, but a proven technology that has become a transformative catalyst that ensures businesses today remain functional at all times.
Dave Tibbils is CDK Global’s product marketing manager.