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WAN infrastructure changes on the horizon

By Max Burkhalter
September 4, 2012
Cloud computing, mobility, video and other emerging enterprise technologies are waging war on the WAN. In the past, businesses used the wide area network to share data with end users in branch offices. The network needed minimal bandwidth because most applications and other systems could be kept in servers on site and the WAN had a small workload.

Then virtualization happened and the WAN landscape changed. Businesses began consolidating all of their data center resources at the central offices and delivering applications and services through the WAN instead of keeping things primarily in each separate LAN. If this was the only trend in the works, the WAN could be just fine. But throw in cloud computing, mobile device use and video's rapid rise and the world is looking at a rapidly changing WAN landscape.

A recent InformationWeek Reports study found that businesses are increasingly recognizing the need for better WANs moving forward. While the majority of respondents said their infrastructure can support some business growth, approximately 69 percent of those polled said they expect WAN bandwidth requirements to expand at least "significantly" or "somewhat" within the next year or two.

The study found that companies face considerable challenges when it comes to WAN adoption, particularly as the network transitions toward increased use of MPLS and organizations have to respond to the cloud. Roughly 31 percent of respondents said they have already changed their WAN setup in response to the challenges presented by cloud computing, but many acknowledged that significant changes could be on the horizon because of rising bandwidth demands.

While many of the participants in the study accept that WAN upgrades may soon be essential, there is also a significant constituent that simply lacks the funding to make necessary adjustments. Approximately 44 percent of respondents said they would be interested in upgrading their WAN, but lack the funds to do so.

In some cases, the complexity and costs of working with a WAN are leading organizations to look for alternatives that can help them deal with bandwidth challenges is a more effective way. One possible solution is to turn to MAN infrastructure. A MAN takes advantage of dark fiber within a metropolitan area to connect branch offices. This improves bandwidth and performance capabilities considerably and gives companies an option that avoids the complexity of major WAN upgrades.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.


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