When we talk about how the modern day networks communication has transformed our world into a digital sphere, it’s the Wide Area Network (WAN) that has made it all possible. Wide Area Networks has made it feasible for the telecommunication networks to spread its wings over huge geographical locations. In essence, the WAN networks connect several local area networks (LANs) – a much smaller network of devices operating within a relatively smaller area – and take it to distant geographic areas. WAN enables the users to share resources such as computer hardware, application programs and other services. This not only cut the cost of installing similar application servers and other resources but also presents an organized framework to operate the business. Notably, WAN and LANs are connected via a router or similar hardware networking device.
Wide Area Network connectivity is majorly carried out using the a) Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) – It also safeguards a secure connection, b) SSL VPN – helps users to work with encrypted data using a remote access, c) IPSec VPN is used in organizations having a business that is spread over different physical locations requiring an uninterrupted live connection, d) and finally using a direct fiber optics cable connecting different locations on a WAN. It is noteworthy that fiber optics offers great benefits but is not an affordable alternative when it comes to major business organizations. And yes, in Wide Area Networks the data comes encrypted to ensure its security and integrity.
WAN connections can be of two types – wired & wireless. Examples of wired WAN technology consists of high bandwidth Ethernet connection called Carrier Ethernet, or Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) that offers great speed and high efficiency, or T1s, etc. Wireless WAN may include Wi-Fi, 4G, or satellite internet connection. A WAN service can be availed through a self owned infrastructure or as a leased line from the 3rd party service providers typically known as the ISPs or Internet Service Providers.
WAN may suffer some latency or traffic congestion that could affect its performance. It is overcome by a technique called WAN Optimization that uses data compression, de-duplication, protocol enhancement, local caching, and packet shaping to reduce congestion and improve its performance.
In conclusion, using the Wide Area Network has many benefits such as availing an integrated infrastructure, greater reach over distant geographic locations, encrypted data security, and faster bandwidth when availed via a leased line. But it has some drawbacks too – namely, the higher setup charges, some security loopholes, and the overhead of securing a WAN connection by the end users themselves using network firewalls or anti-virus software.