The Impact of Wide Area Networks on Business

In this age of information, sending data over long distances is a necessity. Fortunately, technologies have been developed that enable networks and their users to communicate and exchange data quickly and easily — no matter their geographic location. This is what makes long distance networking such a valuable tool. Wide Area Networks (WAN) are broad telecommunication or data communication networks that are geographically distanced from each other. The term WAN actually differentiates Local Area Networks (LAN) from networks spread over a much wider region. Wide Area Networks makes it feasible for companies to have a single integral network, which will connect their various departments and offices. This is made possible by connecting them to network nodes. This requires the application of various strategies and applications.
Companies, farms and organizations often have their offices spread across distances. In these cases, often they face logistical difficulties in communicating with each other. This is where (WAN) step in. As the nomenclature suggests, WAN are networks spread over a wide or relatively large area. WANs are useful in connecting institutions far flung from each other. They are able to provide communications solution even for such organizations, which are situated in two different countries. In most of the cases, WAN are externally connected with bigger networks. Many Internet Service Providers and multinational companies own WANs. A number of establishments, this way are connected together. It can be said that the chief aim of a WAN is to communicate in a speedy, secure and dependable manner.The ownership of WANs may be private as well as rented. Usually, however, the term WAN refers to the inclusion of public networks involving shared users. Such networks often use transmission facilities that are provided by day-to-day carriers like telephone companies. A WAN utilizes many types of devices, which are specific to its environments. These include, WAN switches, access servers, modems, CSU/DSUs, ISDN terminal adapters, routers, ATM switches, multiplexes etc.As WANs are generally maintained by the Public telephone companies of different countries, the internal politics and strategies of these companies influence their development to quite an extent. This way WAN technology marginalizes the distance factor in communication. An example of WAN may be cited in SURFnet, a research network which connects universities and research organizations of the Netherlands with each other.The tremendous growth in the use of PCs and workstations side by side with the development of newer software programs in the 1980s raised demands for networking. But these generally used LANs. As this trend persisted, the need for linking these local networks came up. Then organisations started to rely on using the WAN techniques, using Routers or FRADs. Soon the utility and ability of these networks became comprehensible to network managers, senior management staffa and other users. These became key tools in increasing productivity and be in advantage in competitions.Implementing WAN in business:The very first thing that appears in one’s mind while thinking of networking is generally technology. This is very natural as, for the past two decades we have been provided with opportunities to know about the latest networking techniques after every few years. We have charted our rout from T-1 to frame relay and then to ATM to IP technologies. Each of these steps have led us to less expensive and speedier communications of data. In the process we have been led to believe that faster is better. However, in the economics of the present day, this stress on speed is being questioned. Today’s set-ups are being asked to justify the money they put on new technologies from the business point of view.Since the mid-1990s, there has been an increase in the number of companies, which has extended critical networks to their branch offices situated in remote areas. In recent times there has been widespread acceptance and deployment of technologies like frame relay. These, to a large extent, are encouraging growth. Thus, now organizations have a way to save on their WAN expenditures compared to old digital line networks. At the same time, u9sers now have access to higher levels of service.These techniques, however, also have possess fresh challenges. These range from grasping the details of these newer technologies to implementation of new strategies to keep up the high level of services that is demanded by these organizations. Many of the past problems regarding network management also persist.Most of the network managers have been authorized to use networks spanning enterprises without bringing any extra technical support staff, where simultaneously budget for capital equipment remains relatively flat. Most of these networks present an array of networking equipment from a number of vendors. They, however, need to be efficiently interoperated.There has been a profound impact of internet traffic on enterprise network. As more and more unruly applications like net-surfing and video and audio streamers are jamming valuable bandwidth indiscriminately and often in an unruly way, it is being increasingly difficult for the managers of these networks to deliver the response time that is guaranteed for mission-critical applications. This problem is more pronounced for farms connected by corporate WAN. These offices mostly suffer due to slow links. These problems may be solved if the network managers think of restricting access of users to some applications or network resources. Alternatively, they can try increasing more bandwidth to their network. These problems may also be solved by Quality of Service (QoS) mechanisms. A major benefit of using the Wide Area Network is that all the employers of an organization may simultaneously access same databases or files.Talking of bandwidths, a business may increasingly access additional bandwidth by totalling more than one line with slower speed. Thus, these have to avoid jumping to the next higher level of available technology. For example, if you have to jump from a present T1 line requiring additional bandwidth, to a T3 line, going in the process from 1.5 mbps to 45 mbps. This seems to be significantly more bandwidth than required. It also looks like a dramatic increase in cost.A technology in connection to this type of networking may be found in ‘multi-homing’. It is a network using numbers of connections to the Internet simultaneously. This is usually done with the help of multiple ISPs. Multi-homed networks are increasingly gaining in popularity. This is because they provide networks reliability and performance are of a very high level. There is better reliability, as the network remains protected even if a single link or access router fails. Performance is also better since the network’s bandwidth now becomes the sum of the available bandwidths through each access links.A faster and reliable network connection (including that of the Internet) becomes necessary in many scenarios like the following:o Information Dependent Businesses: Many businesses like that of financial institutions, newspapers and e-commerce require Internet connections of a very high order. Any snapping of Net access for such institutions will be too expensive in terms of business loss and customer support. Simultaneously, there is a loss of real time information as well as customer access.o Virtual Private Networks: Companies which use VPNs require Internet connection which is very reliable as well as redundant.o Low Cost, high bandwidth needs: In the urban areas bandwidth is getting cheaper with time. However, in the suburban area smaller towns, high cost and availability remains decisive factors. Bandwidth can be very expensive as we move out from the core of cities. Often, higher bandwidth lines are just not available. Else, there is an incremental increase that is more than needed.Often obtaining timely information, more importantly financial information, becomes a nagging problem. Delays in transmission of information transmission may affect many agencies. Some of these delays are just inconvenient: Owners of property may want information from the office of the assessor but would have to wait till the clerks could find the data. There could be, however, other, more serious delays: A law enforcement department may land in a soup if it takes up around 48 hours to identify a fingerprint due to unavailability of data. WAN may help in such offbeat cases too.WANs are helpful in many ways. Merchants, for example, use WANs to verify the validity of a buyer’s credit card when performing a transaction. Virtual private networks (VPN’s) employ WANs when creating secure connections between users on different private networks. Companies provide traveling employees with access to network resources via private dial-up links.Integrated applications based on networks may have a good impact. Countywide enterprise of resource management system based on WAN may handle financial management due to back-offices, like purchasing and paying of accounts. This way access of current financial data becomes easier. WAN may also be used to fasten the process of identifying fingerprints.
In yet another novel utility, the Geographical Information System, which is also a project based on recent, multidimensional map may be circulated with information layers of information about the certain population. Owners of real assets, who had to call on various government offices for their required information, may now obtain these using the Internet. Outsourcing has been part of the business landscape since the 1980s, as companies look to free up capital to focus on core strategic activities. Outsourcing can be an efficient way to manage necessary, but not core, business activities, like WAN management. Huge capital investments in both equipment and expert staff are required to design and manage private WANs. Outsourcing these tasks promises that networks will be kept technologically up to date and available. But that promise isn’t always kept, and the decision to move from internal WAN design and management to outsourcing can be hard to reverse once you’ve made your move.WAN managers are outsourcing for various reasons, both tactical and strategic. Since outsourcing exploits several economies of scale, a part of those economies are passed from service provider to client, yielding competitive leverage in the areas of Human Capital and Network Availability Leverage. By contrast, tactical motivations such as Web-related WAN services appear to be secondary. The fact that so few enterprises are outsourcing their WAN management, and that so few who are outsourcing are satisfied, suggests that there is significant opportunity for outsource providers who can deliver high-quality services. Both the complexity and importance of business communications will increase. Outsourcing ought to offer competitive leverage and more efficient solutions to the inherent challenges of design and management of increasingly complex and vital WANs.source

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