The WAN, or Wide Area Network, is often used to describe any connection beyond the boundary of the business office or corporate campus. Locations in town may be served by a MAN, or Metropolitan Area Network, that is limited to a small geographical area. Beyond that, you need WAN bandwidth to reach other locations or networks.
So, why is WAN bandwidth so important? It all has to do with traffic levels and where that traffic goes on the network. When data centers were all local, network traffic primarily stayed on the LAN. Once remote data centers were implemented for backup and disaster recovery, MAN or WAN bandwidth increased to accommodate the extra resource needs. Now that the server racks and disks have been replaced by cloud services, the lion’s share of network traffic goes to and from the cloud.
Where is the cloud? One of the most popular depictions of the cloud is the Internet. You don’t need to be formally involved with cloud computing to be using the Internet. Most everyone does. The reason that the cloud symbol is used for the Internet is that, as users, we don’t have to be concerned with the details of what all is on the Internet nor how it all interconnects. All we need to know is that we connect using a broadband Internet access service and use certain resources available through the Internet.
Now the term “cloud” is used to describe other services that may or may not have anything to do with the Internet. In may cases, it’s only the network that changes. The idea of having servers running applications and using storage owned by a service provider at some distant location isn’t unique to the Internet. What’s different about today’s cloud is that your connection is likely a private point to point data line that is used only to connect your business to the cloud services you require. With the Internet, many, many services and many, many users all share the same network.
This is where WAN bandwidth comes in. If you happen to be using cloud services on the Internet, you’ll be wanting a dedicated broadband Internet connection with enough bandwidth to ensure that your link is never congested. For non-Intenet services, you’ll want private line services with similarly adequate bandwidth. In some cases, latency and class of service are also critically important to your needs. That’s especially true for high performance applications such as financial trading or real time services such as enterprise VoIP, content delivery or telepresence.
Some clouds are private clouds in that they are owned by a particular organization for its own needs. The idea of having your own cloud is a way to share computing, applications, and storage among multiple company locations. The need for adequate WAN bandwidth still applies. You need to ensure that the traffic displaced from the LAN to the WAN still has a large enough pipe to flow through unobstructed.
Are you involved with private or public cloud computing as a user or supplier? You may have more bandwidth options that you realize. Find out by checking prices and availability of WAN bandwidth services for your business locations.
Note: Cloud networking diagram courtesy of Guivaloz on Wikimedia Commons.