Dunelm opt for triple resiliency with Adey Electronics & Mobius Networks
Dunelm have been leading the way in developing a sophisticated building management system for their stores. This increase in efficiency helped cut costs but meant that the connection between Head Office and their stores was used for everything; phones, payment, even the music streamed to the customers.
Recognising the importance of communications and cost of failure, Dunelm developed a dual fixed line solution. However this more than doubles the costs of the primary connection as the fixed line provider has to provide extra cabling from a more distant location and has to ensure that there are no common parts in the circuit. This can make delivery difficult and time consuming. Even then, it is likely that a major failure will still take out both parts of the connectivity. A mobile (4G) solution would have the advantage in that it would have no common points with the fixed line system but could mobile connectivity be made reliable and could it meet the demands of a modern, complex retail store?
PROOF OF CONCEPT
Dunelm consulted with Mobius and Adey Electronics to explore the implementation of Mobius’ unique Dual SIM System and Adey’s rugged B+B Smartworx 4G Routers. This takes advantage of the very high throughput of 4G across a secure private network. This unique triple resilience offering for their stores, makes for a robust connection at a cost effective rate.
Dunelm wanted to go one step further. Although all parties were comfortable that mobile could act as back-up, Dunelm were keen to run a Pilot to see if mobile could be used as the primary store connection. If so, then this would make new store openings much more flexible. The only way to find out was to try it; however data overage costs on a SIM normally kill such a project. Mobius therefore agreed to support Dunelm with a no overage model, for a 6 month period, to support the pilot.
Dunelm, Mobius and Adey Electronics pooled their vast knowledge and skills to complete a series of tests and pilots across the resilient network and hardware, and then rolled out to see how the system would perform in the exacting world of Retail. The results were very promising. The pilot stage proved that stores could run on 4G with the same end user experience as fixed line. Costs were controlled effectively and supporting new store openings was a practical possibility.
Mobius had built a secure private network using their infrastructure and the advanced routing features on the Adey 4G devices. The connection included a tariff package that supported aggregation and advance purchased pooled data. The Mobius ‘IoT’ always on profile using Three and Vodafone, means no chokes or fair usage policy, so throughput is always the best it can be.
A full roll out was green lighted by Dunelm and the system was rolled out over 150 stores across the UK. To take advantage of the flexibility of the Adey dual SIM hardware, a further upgrade has since been added where the system combines Vodafone and Three on the same site. This means that there is in effect, three systems protecting every store – Fixed line, Vodafone ‘IoT’ and Three Wholesale. Making each store more robust than before but still offering significant savings on monthly operating costs. By working in partnership the three companies built a system that incorporated the right hardware and the right configuration.
- 4G means that there is no common point of failure between the three data paths, thus offering complete media resilience.
- The costs of implementation are a lot lower.
- The same infrastructure is used to support a new store opening and then form a backup system.
- The high throughput meant that stores could function the same way either running over fixed line or mobile.
- Costs are effectively controlled.
The solution works so well that it supports all of the stores full services without compromise. When fixed lines are finally installed the 4G solution drops back into its role as the secondary connection without any changes being required to the hardware set up or to the tariff.
Savings are always difficult to quantify but Dunelm estimate that the savings in avoiding a sub-optimal second fixed line to every store means that their mobile solution is around 1/6th of the initial anticipated cost of the all fixed line back up plan.
“The cellular backup solution gives us resilience against single points of failure which is intrinsic to fixed lines. Its flexibility also gives us the option to use cellular for “pop-up” stores, or to get a new store up and running quickly without the delay of lead times or ground works. Our successful pilot of cellular to solely run store network communications has given us the confidence to use this as an alternative to fixed lines, as required. Dual SIMs with diverse providers adds to the resilience in this scenario. These benefits, coupled with attractive commercials has proved to be a very useful solution for us. ”
Ben Ashdown, Head of IT Services, Dunelm (Soft Furnishings) Ltd
About Dunelm: Dunelm is the UK’s No. 1 Homewares retailer offering over 26,000 quality products across more than 28 different departments.
About Adey Electronics: Adey Electronics design solutions and supply products for ‘IoT’ communications (M2M) across the UK.
About Mobius Networks: Mobius is the UKs first integrated data airtime provider. They aim to prove that, in the data world, all networks are not the same and even, all SIMs are not the same.
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