Window on WANs

Jan 30 2012   10:22AM GMT

What IT trends are redefining the wide area network?

Tessa Parmenter Tessa Parmenter Profile: Tessa Parmenter

Mobility and a mobile workforce

The wide area network (WAN) as we know it is changing, and it’s thanks to the growth of video, big data, mobility and consumerization of IT. As these bandwidth-hogging trends make an impact on corporate WANs, IT is seriously considering the Internet for WAN connectivity. Broadband Internet is where bandwidth is less limited; it’s the most logical connection for cloud computing and SaaS; and it’s more flexible to boot.

To keep up with the evolving workforce, the WAN must be redefined. The new WAN will no longer be made of permanent virtual circuit (PVC)-type connections, like frame relay, which must be reprogrammed and configured with every change. The private WAN as we know it will be replaced by Internet traffic or IP. It will be the only transport flexible enough to keep pace with changing network traffic patterns — which no longer travel soley in the private WAN between branch offices and the data center; traffic will travel between branches and mobile workers, cloud networks and data centers.

“When the majority of our employees were in company locations and didn’t move, those older WAN technologies were fine. Now that we have highly mobile workers, IP is the protocol that fits the workforce best, and IP moreso than the Internet, [because] IP is highly dynamic, flexible and resillient. With Internet and IP technologies, you don’t need to do any reprogramming; it just knows where to go,” said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research.

And while trading out a leased line for an Internet VPN is more the exception than the norm, enterprises are certainly trending that way for WAN connectivity.

2  Comments on this Post

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  • Grenot
    Dear Tessa - one things that always strikes me it that during the past 10/15 years the datacenter has seen its 'revolution': virtualization, orchestration, massive concentration - while network infrastructure does not move really (ok, a bit faster than before and mobility is a plus). On the one hand, a super powerful and intelligent datacenter - on the other a brainless and fat network. What's wrong? Kind regard - Thierry Grenot @ Ipanema Technologies
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  • Tessa Parmenter
    You bring up a great point, Thierry. [A href=""]Network devices are becoming commoditized [/A]and the age old debate of whether [A href=""]dumb networks are really smarter[/A] persists. One thing I should have added to my post above is that as much as the IT trends are evolving the WAN, the economic viability of said solutions are what really drive this progression -- perhaps not only in choosing Internet connectivity, but also in finding a WAN optimization solution to stave off bandwidth upgrades and a network device that is open and doesn't need expensive upgrades.
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