WAN Configuration

WAN-resource The IT business world has taken giant leaps due to technical innovations and is advancing a new world that is completely reliant on networks. The Internet has encompassed the globe in an ocean of information, all available at an instant. This has transformed the way companies conduct businesses: a majority of business dealings, commerce, advertisement, etc. are now done over the Internet for quick and efficient information delivery. The WANs alleviate the strain and time lag of conventional processes.

WAN Connectivity options

A Wide Area Network (WAN) is a geographically dispersed telecommunication network, which transmits data through common telecommunication devices. The WAN carrier devices such as fiber lines, wireless, telephone lines, microwave links, and satellite channels enable data transportation. In a WAN configuration, the WAN hardware and WAN carrier devices are of importance as they are the keystone for efficient connectivity. WANs operate on the physical layer, data link layer, and network layer, the lower three layers of the OSI reference model. They can connect Local Area Networks (LANs) and other type of networks together, enabling users and computers at various locations to communicate with each other. A WAN configuration can include any of the options such as Leased Line, Circuit Switching, Packet Switching, and Frame Relay to establish connectivity. An analysis of a WAN configuration and functioning would shed more light on how data is transferred over the Internet and the impact of the same on the network-dependent businesses. Businesses around the globe have need for a strong WAN infrastructure to ensure business continuity, which is a key area in today’s business environment. WANs connect to computer systems at different locations by transmitting data across “point-to-point” links using public or private pathways. The WAN hardware component in use is the analog or digital telephone lines that establish the links. A separate serial line can also be used to establish a point-to-point link provided the WAN hardware at both ends has the capacity to sustain long distance signal strength. Also called as leased lines, the point-to-point lines are commonly leased from a WAN carrier. These are high priced when compared to Frame Relay, which is a shared service. In a Switched circuit or Circuit Switching WAN configuration, connectivity can be established as and when necessary and terminated when communication is concluded. A good example of this type is Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN). The router, which has data to deliver to a remote site, initiates the switched circuit through the remote network’s circuit number. The connectivity is established and data transfer is done, on the completion of which, the call is terminated. This technology is used in specialized applications for uninterrupted data transfer using maximum bandwidth. Contrary to Circuit switching is Packet switching, which routes data packets between nodes across the data links that are shared with other network traffic. Packet switching technology employs WAN carrier resources that are shared by users. It is more efficient owing to its infrastructure and architecture, which facilitates WAN carriers to make optimal use of the same. The WAN configuration of this technology is that the networks connect into the carrier’s network, which is then shared by the users. Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), Frame Relay, Switched Multi-megabit Data Services (SMDS), and X.25 are few of the Packet-switched networks. This technology considerably reduces transmission latency through optimization of channel capacity in the networks.

Hardware configuration on WANs

Wide Area Networks use several devices as suited to WAN domains. Some of the important WAN hardware components are WAN switches, access servers, modems, routers, ISDN terminal adapters, ATM switches, and multiplexers. A short description of each would aid in understanding the indispensable nature of these components. The multi-port internetworking device that is used in WAN carrier networks is the WAN Switch. It is used for switching traffic such as in Frame Relay, X.25, and Switched Multi-megabit Data Services (SMDS). The Access Server is a server system through which ISPs allow users to get connected to the Internet. A modem is a device that allows a computer to transfer data over connecting links such as telephone or WAN cable links. It modulates and demodulates analog signals to encode and decode digital information, respectively. Routers are devices, which forward packets of data on the network. They are located at the connecting point of two or more networks, i.e. the gateways. A router connection facilitates file sharing between multiple computer systems. The digital interface device that facilitates the router to connect to a digital circuit (T1, for example) is called a Channel Service Unit/Digital Service Unit (CSU/DSU). For communication among the devices, the CSU/DSU offers signal timing. An ISDN Terminal Adapter interlinks the ISDN Basic Rate Interface (BRI) connections to the rest of the interfaces on a router, such as EIA/TIA-232. Although it has similarity to a modem, it does not perform the modulation/demodulation functions. The WAN hardware devices have specific functions that ultimately aid in efficient WAN connections and thereby Business continuity for companies. Speed is an important factor underlying this entire infrastructure. To effectuate speed in connectivity, it is necessary to monitor network traffic and load balance. WAN compression devices consistently reduce WAN traffic, increase the WAN capacity and improve application performance and user response time. WAN compression becomes efficient when it is used selectively based on specific applications. Bandwidth is utilized to the maximum, curtailing unnecessary and redundant data transmission.

WAN Telephone and Cable

The data transmission mode differs depending upon the particular WAN configuration and connection required by the user. The Wide Area Network encompasses a wide geographic area and enables information sharing. This requires stable WAN hardware, WAN carrier devices, and links. The interconnection of networks to facilitate communication is made possible through different technologies. WAN cable allows connection and information sharing through twisted-pair copper wire cable, coaxial cable, optical fiber. In Local Area Networks (LANs) computers are connected through an Ethernet cable. The WAN cable allows for speed in network connectivity. Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP), the optimized standard for voice transmission over the Internet or packet-switched networks, is also known by several names such as IP telephony, WAN telephony, Internet telephony, broadband phone, WAN telephone, etc. VoIP systems transmit telephony signals in the form of digital audio. Data compression techniques are used to bring down the data rate, which is then encapsulated into a stream of data packets and delivered through the IP. WAN telephony is a great tool for voice transmission as it contains many enhanced features. A single broadband connection can be used to transfer more than one telephone call. A WAN telephone has facilities such as conference calling, call forwarding, automatic redial, and caller ID. Apart from providing a secure phone connection using encryption and authentication, advance features in WAN telephony include call routing, screen pops, and IVR implementations. These are cost effective and easy to integrate. While WANs should be configured for optimal transmission of data, they should also be stable and have extreme availability. This aspect is the key in ensuring business continuity.

Relevance of Business continuity and optimized solutions

An important element in delivering business automation and meeting business continuity goals of an organization is optimized network connectivity. Businesses in today’s competitive world have a definite need for technology solutions that ensure a robust WAN to keep their businesses on track. The Wide Area Network as the core platform on which businesses operate requires features such as optimization, reliability, security, and acceleration to give high application performance. Advance technological products are deployed in mission critical and highly secure WANs for redundant and fast Internet access. This is most essential as the optimized solutions help to achieve business continuity standards.