WAN Basics for the Non-Technical User

Mastering the technology that helps you do your job can be a challenge in itself. But getting to know the nitty gritty of technological systems that are outside of your domain usually isn’t high on the list of priorities, and frankly, it shouldn’t be. However, when it comes to the business’s infrastructure – namely the WAN used to power the organization’s most critical applications and processes – there are a few things even the least technically-savvy user might like to know.

Understanding the network that is the backbone of the company and makes business happen can be beneficial in more ways than you’d think.

Understanding the network that is the backbone of the company and makes business happen can be beneficial in more ways than you’d think.”

Let’s begin with the basics about WAN technology:

First and foremost, what exactly is the WAN?
A WAN, or wide area network, is the network that supports the company’s telecommunications and network traffic. It can be made up of different types of links, including Internet and MPLS, and serves to connect smaller networks to the local area network (LAN), or metro area network (MAN). This allows your company’s workers to connect with and utilize information stored in other areas of the network, like the organization’s data center, for instance.

The WAN supports all online activities, including access to mission-critical applications. The WAN supports all online activities, including access to mission-critical applications.

What kinds of business processes use the WAN?
The WAN provides the paths through which all network traffic travels, including traffic created by application use, accessing the cloud, using VoIP or video conferencing, sending large files, dipping into your CRM and the other technological systems your company uses.

What does bandwidth have to do with WAN?
TechTarget explained the concept of bandwidth particularly well, noting that it is the data transfer rate, or the measure of how much data can travel from one location in the network to another during a specific time period. Typically, this is measured in seconds, with bandwidth expressed in bits per seconds (bps) or megabits per second (mbps).

A bottleneck, as TechTarget puts it, is when the end-to-end available bandwidth reaches its lowest speed. This creates a bottleneck, which you can think of as a network traffic jam. When bandwidth speed creeps to a crawl, network traffic becomes trapped, slowing down all the traffic. This means the programs and processes that this traffic is connected with – be it applications, Internet browsing or videoconferencing – will reflect this slow speed in their performance which means it ultimately slows YOUR performance.

It is also worth explaining here that bottlenecks don’t always results from limited bandwidth resources. Yes, poorly configured network components or hardware failures can create bottlenecks, but it’s usually not the network that’s the root of the issue. TechTarget noted that incorrectly coded applications, lack of available system memory or high CPU load can also lead to bottlenecks.

How can performance issues be addressed?
Right now, one of the best ways to address performance issues is with a software defined WAN that is capable of proactively responding to network conditions and employees’ changing needs. Talari’s THINKING WAN solution can do just that, and ensures that critical traffic – including that related to the most important applications like VoIP – takes the most ideal path across the network to provide the best performance. With this kind of solution in place, the network can respond should one of its links experience a bottleneck: In this case, traffic can be rerouted to avoid the jam without any even noticing.

To find out more about Talari’s Software Defined THINKING WAN solution, watch this video.

Categories: Application Performance/Application Quality, IT Challenges


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