GM recently issues important guidelines for dealerships about the technology infrastructure that should be in place. The GM dealership guidelines include detailed requirements that cover wireless and wired networks, hardware and software, bandwidth and security.

For many dealerships, the detailed, extensive guidelines may be overwhelming, especially for those companies with small or overtaxed internal IT staffs. If you’re looking for IT services for GM dealers, look to Blue Star, the IT company with experience and expertise working with auto dealerships in the South Bend and throughout north central Indiana and southwestern Michigan.

Here is a detailed look at the guidelines, which GM notes are designed “to ensure seamless and reliable dealer data communications and develop customers for life through efficient and effective systems and solutions. For each section, GM provides three levels of guidance:

  • Good. The minimum acceptable level of components or capabilities
  • Better. Solutions that provide improved performance and security
  • Best. Solutions that are ideal for performance and security and maximize the investment in technology

What Type of Computer Systems Are Required?

GM recommends using enterprise-grade hardware, which is intended for business use. While consumer-grade computers (intended for home and personal use) may be a more attractive pricing option, the total cost of ownership may be higher as such models have limited functionality, higher fail rates and need more repairs and support. GM also recommends a three-year replacement cycle for desktop computers, laptops, and tablets.

Here are some of the requirements deemed Best by GM:

  • Processor: Intel Core I7 5th generation or higher
  • Memory: 16 GB
  • Hard Disk Drive: 1 TB+
  • USB Ports: 4+
  • Operating System: Windows 10 Professional, 64-bit

What Software Does GM Recommend Installing?
GM suggests installing software that serves basic business office functions and also allows for improved connectivity among employees. Among the recommended products are:

  • Microsoft Office 365 Pro Plus for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations
  • Internet Explorer (version IE11) with the most recent service pack installed and “compatibility mode” enabled
  • Java Runtime Environment 32-bit (or the version recommended by each application)
  • Adobe Reader (current version)
  • Full operating system recovery software in the case of a major software failure
  • An enterprise anti-virus solution that can be updated automatically and managed centrally

What Wired and Wireless Network Capabilities Do We Need?

The GM guidelines acknowledge that network management can be challenging for many auto dealers. Why? Dealers need to easily share data among employees in different departments but limit access, meaning security measures are vitally important. Other resources need to be shared with business partners and representatives. As a quasi-public space, and to better serve customers, they also need to provide wireless network access to customers.

Here are some of the recommended Best guidelines for local area networks (LAN):

  • Data Cabling: Ethernet-based 1 Gigabit (though fiber optic cable is preferred for cable runs longer than 295 feet/90 meters)
  • Equipment Room: Locked, clean and temperature-controlled
  • IP Addressing: Dynamic (DHCP)
  • Traffic Switching: 1 GB managed switch
  • Router: Enterprise-grade routers that support Network Address Translation/Process Analytical Technology (NAT/PAT), dynamic routing, regular password changes, and backup configurations kept on file
  • Domain Name Services: Public DNS unless running Windows Active Directory
  • Ethernet Standard: IEEE 802.3 1000baseT
  • Redundant power supplies
  • Speed: 1000 Mbps
  • Cross-Location Networking: SD-WAN
  • Wireless Access Points: Dual-band IEEE 802.11ac or better

For wireless networks, GM recommends the following Best standards:

  • Authentication and Encryption: WPA2 Enterprise with RADIUS authentication and AES encryption
  • Guest Network Access: Guests should first be redirected to a wireless registration page that requires agreement with an acceptable-use policy and provides a one-time password before gaining access.
  • Wireless Coverage: For the business and guests, coverage should include the sales showroom, customer lounge, service drive, service shop, service lot and vehicle lot.
  • Wireless Hardware: Only enterprise-grade access points, which are designed to provide roaming and business-class features, should be installed. These access points are designed to support a larger number of connections simultaneously than consumer-grade hardware.
  • Segmentation. Dealerships need to ensure that guest traffic is segmented from the business traffic through a separate internet connection or the use of VLAN.
  • Rogue Connection Detection. Dealerships should use tools scan for and remove suspicious, unauthorized users.

How Should We Keep Systems and Data Secure?
Security is critically important for dealerships that have sensitive financial and personal information on customers on hand. GM recommends the following security protocols:

  • Unified Threat Management solutions that provide:
    • Continuous threat monitoring
    • Intrusion detection
    • Anti-virus scanning
    • Log inspection
    • Network gateway with sandboxing capabilities to monitor and test traffic
  • Category content filtering
  • Network segmentation that uses a separate network for payment card processing, customer information, dealership traffic and customer traffic
  • Enterprise-grade anti-virus monitoring for PCs
  • Consistent patch management on all workstations
  • Quarterly testing for system vulnerabilities
  • Inbound email security to flag malware, phishing and malicious emails
  • Policy development to cover security criteria

Who Can Help Our Dealership With These Guidelines?

With so many complexities within the GM guidelines, your dealership needs a partner who knows the technology and the auto industry. Blue Star has the expertise and experience to help you in the implementation of these guidelines and other dealership IT needs. Contact us to learn more about our IT Services For GM dealerships.

Published on 2nd November 2018 by Jon Morningstar

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