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Hughes

A Texas-based retail petroleum marketer and convenience store chain, is experiencing significant network performance gains using HughesON ActiveTechnologies to turbocharge a slow DSL circuit at one of its new high-volume c-stores.

picture of woman in store

The new store is also serving as a real-world lab for stress-testing technologies of a new network services program thanks to the store’s uniquely challenging network environment. This program is the upcoming managed network service on which all of the retail petroleum marketers’ locations can run their POS and business applications over a faster, more secure and reliable network.

In its other stores, they have typically used a very small aperture terminal (VSAT) satellite connection for POS transactions and back-office operations, and provisioned a second broadband network to run sophisticated predictive sales applications. The family-owned business was seeking to upgrade and consolidate its network to support its increasingly sophisticated business applications, so it gladly volunteered to be a beta test lab for the managed network services program using the Hughes HR4700 Branch Gateway and ActiveTechnologies. At the new test store, the DSL circuit was provisioned to deliver .512 Mbps uplink speeds, but unfortunately only delivered .39 Mbps. This proved insufficient to support all gas and retail transactions, as well as in-store and back-office applications.

The ActiveTechnologies Difference

Using the same DSL broadband circuit, Hughes now supports every store application with one high-performance, fully managed network solution, including a 4G wireless backup. Employing its unique Hughes ActiveTechnologies—ActiveQoS™, ActiveClassifer™, and ActiveCompression™—the solution dramatically increased throughput speeds and boosted the uplink to 3.0 Mbps, ensuring high quality of service for their priority applications. ActiveQoS provides intelligent, real-time management and prioritization of mission-critical network traffic, while ActiveCompression delivers powerful compression to increase throughput performance over affordable broadband. As a result it transforms  the standard DSL broadband into a truly enterprisegrade WAN.

Seamless, Reliable Backup

Reliable backup was another major scenario for the Hughes solution. Since the store opened, it has become one of the franchise’s highest volume locations for gas sales. Inability to process credit card transactions would significantly hurt store revenues. “With the high volume of gas sold at that store, there has not been a single time that the network has gone down for us,” the CIO said. “We were really impressed with how it performed in both the lab and store environment. The 4G switches over within five pings of the broadband connection going down. In fact, it’s so seamless that we haven’t been able to notice if the backup network kicked in at the store.” Seamless backup is critical for gas and retail store transactions. Car washes, gift card machines, and loyalty card programs also rely on the network for purchases and validation.

Just as important in a reliable network is the ability to layer on applications that improve productivity and profitability without disrupting network performance. For example, Market Basket analysis, which uses predictive modeling and big data techniques, is enabling the franchise to make faster, better decisions on what products it needs to stock when and where in each store. Market Basket analysis requires constantly pulling down poll data from each store, which generates huge data files.

Accounting also requires high availability because each store must connect to the corporate server over the Internet to report and run bookkeeping applications daily.

“Before we had to install a dedicated circuit at each store just for our increasing store applications, with no backup protection,” the CIO said. “Now we can do everything with one Hughes solution and gain backup for our back-office operations. That’s huge for us because we rely on Market Basket and other applications every day to maximize profitability and efficiency at our stores. Hughes ActiveTechnologies with 4G backup were the key to getting all those things working.”

Hughes also addresses the franchise’s security concerns. The company store utilizes the Hughes HR4700 Branch Gateway, which combines security, routing, and ActiveTechnologies into one easy-to-manage device. The HR4700 incorporates industryleading Fortinet security technology, providing next-generation firewall capabilities such as Intrusion Detection/Prevention, application control, and protection from advanced threats. Other security technologies provided include data leak prevention and vulnerability scanning—all centrally managed by Hughes.

“I like to call it a ‘magic switch’,” said thecompany’s chief information officer (CIO). “After turning on the ActiveTechnologies, we saw increased speed improvements of up to seven times over the existing network.”

“Hughes gives us one managed network solution which relieves us from having to maintain our own part of the network. Hughes does all the monitoring and support 24/7 and fixes a problem instantly should one arise. It also saves us a lot of money when you consider the cost we used to incur provisioning extra broadband, installing firewalls, and managing all that,” the CIO said.