An Internet Service Provider (ISP) provides the link between your network and the rest of the world. It makes it possible for you to do your online banking, order parts from your manufacturer, send and receive emails, and access your electronic parts catalog. In short, any connection outside of your network goes through your ISP.
Moving from one Internet Service Provider to another usually means you will also get a new public IP address. It is also possible that your current Internet Service Provider will change your current public IP address to accommodate changes within their system. What is an IP address? What is a public IP address? How does changing your public IP affect your dealership? Why should you care? Read on!
What is an IP address?
IP is short for Internet Protocol. Simply put, an IP address refers to a unique network address. If you think about how our postal system works (or should work), you put a “unique” address on a package, drop it in the mail, and the package is sent to the correct destination address.
The same concept applies to computers. The IP address allows data to be sent and received within or across networks. An IP address consists of numbers, separated by periods into four groups, like this: 123.45.678.9.
What is a Public IP address?
There are public IP addresses and private IP addresses. Private IPs are contained inside a private local area network (LAN). Public IPs are reserved for use on the Internet (WAN). A private IP would be unique within your LAN, but would not be unique if compared to private IPs within other LANs.
For example, the IP address 192.168.230.2 could be a unique IP in your dealership server, but that same address may be assigned to servers at hundreds of dealerships across the country. By contrast, a public IP address must be unique; it will only be assigned once, anywhere in the world.
Why are public IP addresses important in your dealership?
In the dealership, your firewall requires a public IP address to allow Internet access and VPN connections for store-to-store and remote access. Certain manufacturer communications like CNH applications, as well as DIS applications like Prism and Customer Support access, and even VOIP (internet phone service) all rely on a static or consistent IP address.
To facilitate this, your firewall (in most cases a SonicWALL) will be configured with a public (WAN) IP address supplied by your Internet Service Provider (ISP). This public IP is usually a static IP, meaning it doesn’t automatically change, which is important for a consistent connection.
With a VPN connection, firewalls point to each other’s public IP addresses, allowing the system to create a (VPN) private data tunnel that allows your information to securely pass between two locations, a main store and a remote store, say, or a main store and a remote employee working from their home. If the public IP address gets changed, the remote firewall won’t know how to reach the main store’s firewall and the connection cannot be made. If you randomly changed your house address, how much mail would you receive?
What if I change my ISP or my ISP changes my public IP address?
If you are changing ISPs or if your current ISP needs to change the public IP address issued to your firewall, they should notify you first so that the change can be scheduled and done in an orderly way. If you are not notified prior to receiving a new public IP (which your ISP can do without your knowledge), remote users will probably experience unplanned downtime.
If your public IP address needs to be changed or has already been changed, you will need to contact the DIS support team. If your firewall isn’t supported by DIS, then contact the support group for the firewall. They will help you change the public IP in your firewall and possibly the VPN configuration on the remote firewall.