Breaking Away from a Device-Centric Architecture
Device-centric architecture served the retail industry well through the 1980s and 1990s, as the then new concept of electronic POS was married to LANs for the first time. In early generations, it was convenient to deploy one application per device. Hence one computer, one operating system and one POS.
However, this arrangement comes with high overhead: it requires physical, expensive and burdensome deployment projects for most changes. Complex logistics are required to get devices, networking, power, operating systems and security software into the right configuration, in the right location, to support an application. This inflexibility derived from the hardware remaining in control.
The exciting software-defined developments in data centers and the cloud did not trouble the retail environment during the last fifteen years, so the industry continued using a device orientated architecture.
However, in today’s fast-paced environment where customer expectations of speed and new experiences are elevated, retailers need a more flexible, dynamic model that is not tied to this ‘one device, one application’, device orientated model. They can no longer wait six months to get a new computer into every store to launch a new service, or send a field engineer to every site just to make a change. Retailers must deploy at the speed of the cloud, in just a few clicks, or risk being held back.