HomeTrendsUncovering the Meaning of WAN: A Comprehensive Guide

    Uncovering the Meaning of WAN: A Comprehensive Guide

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    The word “wan” is often used to describe someone who appears sickly and lacking energy. But WAN is also an acronym for comprehensive area network solutions.

    WANs allow organizations to connect their buildings, offices, and other locations across cities, states, and countries. They’re the backbone of the Internet, for example.

    What is a WAN?

    WAN meaning wide area network is a computer network that transmits data over long distances. Its significance continues to grow as organizations embrace mobility and digital platforms. In many cases, a WAN connects a company’s branches, offices, and headquarters to enable employees to work together and stay connected, even when they are separated by geographic location or remote from the office.

    WANs are distinguished from standard local area networks (LANs) because they operate at higher OSI model layers. It means that a WAN can carry information over longer distances than a LAN, which typically uses at lower transmission speeds and with limited capacity for data transfers.

    Private companies establish Most WANs to enable business operations and services from multiple locations. However, some WANs are public and built to connect users across city, state, or country borders. The Internet is one of the most famous examples.

    All WANs consist of devices, including routers, CSU/DSU circuits, and leased lines. An advanced WAN can be controlled by software rather than traditional hardware and a software-defined WAN. This type of WAN is often referred to as SD-WAN.

    What is a LAN?

    A local area network (LAN) is a group of computers or devices connected to a network in a limited geographic area, such as a home, business, or school. LANs can range in size from two devices in a consumer-grade use case to thousands of devices in an enterprise network. End devices, CPE, routers, and network switches are all part of a LAN environment.

    LANs connect to the public Internet for many uses, including cloud storage, remote work, and data exchange from wearable devices. A centralized server is typically needed to house applications and files for the LAN. It is especially true for enterprise implementations of LANs, which may use specialized high-speed servers to transmit data over long distances.

    In contrast to a LAN, a wide area network (WAN) is much more extensive, often spanning a city, state, or country. A WAN can be private to connect a company’s headquarters and branch offices or public to provide access to various networks. The Internet is a large and well-known example of a WAN that serves the needs of countless users worldwide.

    To create a WAN, you must choose a carrier or service provider with the infrastructure and the capabilities that suit your needs. Some examples of WAN connection types include frame or packet switching, leased lines, and circuit-switched networks.

    What is a WAN Service?

    Unlike local networks that can be maintained by in-house IT personnel, a WAN comprises network infrastructure often outsourced to telecommunication carriers or service providers. WANs are built for networking over long distances, making them essential for any enterprise with multiple locations across a wide area. For example, the global banking industry uses a WAN to connect its offices and ATMs across the country (or even the world).

    There are several different WAN technologies, with each offering its own set of benefits and drawbacks. The most common type of WAN is the private WAN, which is implemented with leased data lines. These provide a consistent symmetrical upload and download speed but are usually more expensive than connecting to the Internet directly.

    An alternative to leased lines is the MPLS network. It provides a more scalable network architecture and allows data routing to avoid congestion or other issues. It also allows for traffic shaping by application, further improving network performance.

    An even newer option is software-defined WAN. This emerging technology uses a software platform to manage your entire network infrastructure, eliminating the need for physical hardware appliances and providing a more agile solution. This type of WAN can help you reduce costs and improve performance while accelerating time to market for new applications.

    What is a WAN Service Type?

    Regarding the technology used for WAN connections, there are many options. Unlike standard LAN technologies that can only transmit data over a short distance, WAN technology operates at higher OSI model layers to connect devices over tens of thousands of miles or kilometers.

    A WAN can be based on leased lines or the public Internet, depending on the needs of an enterprise. It can also combine these two components for increased efficiency and security, especially if sensitive data travels to remote locations.

    Depending on the type of WAN, an enterprise may use network appliances like routers and switches or rely on managed WAN services from a provider to support network connectivity across multiple locations. These WAN services are often based on software platforms that can deliver performance improvements, such as data compression and deduplication, to reduce bandwidth consumption.

    The most common WAN network is a point-to-point WAN environment, which uses a dedicated, secure leased line to transport data between two LANs or endpoints. This technology can be as simple as old-school 2400 baud modems on circuit-switched telephone lines or as sophisticated as an MPLS network over optical fiber. In either case, today’s WAN technologies can deliver the fast, low-latency networks people expect. They allow us to videoconference on demand with colleagues worldwide, back up a computer in one city and access that data in another, and manage the operations of a self-driving car from a parking lot elsewhere.

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