Monday, October 03, 2011

Why The Smart WAN Beats A Dumb Pipe

The basic building block in constructing Wide Area Networks has been the “dumb pipe.” This refers to a bandwidth connection between point A and point B. There’s nothing stupid about these connections. They do one thing and one thing well. They get your packets from place to place with no effort on your part. The reason you’d want something smarter is that IT needs are getting more sophisticated. Either you add more smarts within your organization or gain this capability as a service.

Compare managed IT services for cost and performance...Level 3 Communications, a major domestic and international fiber network carrier, has seen the transition from simple to high performance networking requirements and is launching what they call the “Smart WAN.” This is a bundled solution that includes all of the bandwidth services you traditionally associate with the WAN, plus managed services to optimally tie everything together.

Let’s take a look at some of the services you find in this bundle and how they can benefit your organization.

You’ll want a connection to the Internet, of course. This is a dedicated bandwidth line that can range from a T1 or Ethernet over Copper connection on the low end on up to Gigabit Ethernet or 10 GigE for high performance needs. Level 3 can make whatever connection you need, including video transport and content delivery outside but in parallel with the Internet.

Nobody in their right mind would simply plug an Internet port into their company network these days. All the benefits of worldwide connectivity bring along all the problems with bad actors scattered around the globe. Some want to bring down your organization just for fun. Others want to steal your intellectual property for sale to a competitor. Level 3 offers managed security services to keep the threats at bay. These include managed firewalls, intrusion detection and protection, and IPSEC secure remote access. You’ll need this if you employ remote workers or employees that need access to the company LAN while traveling.

Beyond the Internet, you may want a VPN to tie together your business locations in other cities, states and countries. Level 3 has an extensive MPLS network in place that can support any needed protocol. Some of the standard services include EVPL or Ethernet Virtual Private Line, a Layer 2 Ethernet service that replaces long haul dedicated point to point lines and can also provide point to multipoint data service. IP VPN service offers any to any, full mesh WAN connections plus managed routing to simplify your support needs. There’s also VPLS or Virtual Private LAN Service that lets you interconnect your far-flung LANs in to a single company network. WAN optimization ensures that you are making best use of the bandwidth you have without overpaying for unnecessary higher level line services.

You can go out and procure any of these services separately, of course. That’s been the traditional approach to building business WAN networks on an ad-hoc basis. When all you need is a phone line and broadband Internet access, it’s no big deal to handle it yourself. What’s different lately is that companies are embracing cloud services that need high performance secure connections, perhaps shared among many different locations. This puts an additional demand on IT resources, at a time when increasing staff is difficult to impossible.

Level 3’s Smart WAN looks to offload the burden of setting up and running your WAN for maximum effectiveness. In addition to bandwidth and managed services, Level 3 can provide architecture, design, project management, monitoring & measurement and field service.

Are you finding that your WAN needs are getting hard to handle and perhaps costing more than you think they should? Perhaps you need a “smarter” WAN approach. Get competitive quotes for managed WAN services and see if you can get higher network performance at better prices than what you are doing now.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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