The design for wide area network (WAN) is currently adapting to new requirements for networks, so the typical hub-and-spoke configuration is making way for other alternatives. There are many factors driving a change in WAN design, but two have had the most impact:
- The migration to cloud software for applications and data storage
- Software as a Service (SaaS), cloud-based apps, and managed services all require a WAN configuration that reduces latency and improves speed and performance
With the need for quicker connections and better performance, there are currently three main designs for WAN:
- Centralized internet access (in this case, firewalls, authentication, and other security features are in the single WAN access point)
- Decentralized internet access (this is known as “every site for itself”)
- Regionalized internet access
Overall, the trend is moving away from a centralized design, except in those cases where a company is geographically localized and is primarily using on-site software solutions.
The Implications of a Decentralized WAN Design
While it’s easy to understand the desire for a direct connection to the internet for branches to increase speed and efficiency and improve business processes, a decentralized WAN design presents other challenges for IT teams. Managing security and firewalls is more difficult and expensive when there are multiple entry points for accessing the internet.
A centralized WAN design has some benefits when it comes to security, including the requirement for all traffic to back-haul to your centralized network before going out to the internet.
Many enterprises are adopting what’s called regionalized internet access, in which they gain some of the benefits of centralized and decentralized designs. In this model, there are generally two variations used: hub routers in colocation sites or virtual hub routers in the cloud.
One benefit of using hub routers in the colocation sites is that end users appreciate a fast connection to the internet with an inexpensive price tag. The alternative is simply the virtual equivalent of this system, with virtual hub routers in the cloud. There are a few challenges for this method, including limitations in performance, the ability to access inter-cloud provider connections, and potential fees for egress traffic from cloud providers.
With a regional connection, you still have some of the latency that comes with a centralized WAN design, but it’s spread out between multiple locations. As a result, speed is not as big of a problem and performance is reliable.
As comprehensive consultants, Focal Solutions works with you through every step of your technology plan, from choosing a network configuration to determining which applications are best hosted in the cloud. We’ll make sure speed and performance never suffer while reducing your overall IT costs. Give us a call to talk more.