infoTECH Feature

June 27, 2022

What Is a WAN? Things Every Digital Business Should Know About a Wide Area Network

While there are many options for connecting all computing devices across different sites, a wide area network (WAN) is one of the best solutions for ensuring the highest levels of security, reliability, and connection speeds. 

A WAN is a solution that allows business organizations to connect all internet-enabled devices and computer-related systems across a large geographic area and develop a unified, centralized network across entire countries.  

Connecting all your corporate devices allows you to build a security network for transferring sensitive data. Nowadays, modern businesses can create ad hoc networks using public cloud solutions and the power of the internet.  

Although companies could rely on cloud providers, a downside to this option is that problems with the providers could cause network issues. A WAN bypasses that by giving you complete control over your platform. With that in mind, let’s discuss the importance of a WAN for digital businesses. 

WAN features and benefits 

WANs allow digital businesses to connect their devices and disparate locations via a secure and safe network. This network ensures safe and easy sharing and data access across all existing business websites.  

A WAN comes with the following features: 

  • Enough connectivity to allow for networking of multiple internet-enabled devices over a large area; 
  • Regional coverage; 
  • Capacity to connect MANs, LANs, and other networks into a unified network; 
  • Access to public telephone networks; 
  • Access to proprietary networks. 

    Because of these features, a WAN is a necessity for modern-day companies. 

    Healthcare providers can link several medical facilities to share information more efficiently. Law firms can connect their offices around the country, while retailers can harness the power of WANs to connect multiple branches into a centralized powerhouse.  

    The goal is always to ensure a safe, secure, and reliable flow of information. Whether your business involves managing patient records, customer orders, staff training, or stock management systems, you have to be able to access the necessary information quickly and easily.  

    A WAN gives you access to a central server that stores all your data, eliminating the need for separate email and file servers for every location. With a WAN, you can determine who has authorized access to your information.  

    It allows you to build a secure corporate network that you can manage according to the latest data privacy and cybersecurity standards. Although you can connect your WANs with broadband internet connections, leased phone lines are a better solution because they’re much faster, more flexible, and more scalable.  

    If you grow your business and expand into new locations, a leased line connection makes it easier to add those locations to the network and expand your operations. 

Managed WAN services 

Digital businesses have two options on their hands: 

  • They can manage their WAN on their own; 
  • They can hire a service provider to manage their networks for them. 

    The first option gives you complete control over your network. As your business grows, you set the level of urgency regarding making the necessary changes on the WAN. 

    However, there are a few disadvantages to this approach. You have to invest in the necessary equipment by renting or buying.  

    The equipment also requires regular maintenance and upgrades when necessary. Since it can’t last forever, you’ll have to replace it sooner or later. 

    Additionally, network repair and maintenance require you to hire professionals with the necessary tools and knowledge to keep your network up and running 24/7/365.  

    In contrast, hiring a provider to get a managed WAN is a much better and more cost-effective solution. You don’t have to bother with the equipment and the personnel. 

    The latest WAN solutions, such as Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WANs), are the best, most cost-effective alternatives to outdated WANs.  

    As enterprise applications moved to the cloud, the old WAN technologies such as MPLS couldn't support this change. SD-WAN is what enables this digital transformation as it allows not only for site-to-site connectivity but also for site-to cloud.

    Additionally, SD-WAN adds agility to the WAN as the SD-WAN routers are typically managed from one cloud management system in which all routing policies and network architectures are defined.

    Many of the networking and security vendors already offer SD-WAN products which are used by service providers to offer SD-WAN services to their enterprise customers. These SD-WAN products of the large vendors are typically closed and offered as a large and complex software stack.

    One vendor that sicks out of the crowd is the open source company flexiWAN. In addition to being open source, flexiWAN offers a hosted solution in a SaaS (News - Alert) business model and features an application store so 3rd party applications and flexiWAN applications can be dynamically loaded to the system. This open architecture of applications is similar to the evolution of mobile phones from feature phones to smartphones.


The right WAN solutions for your business solely depend on your business model, organizational structure, and networking needs. It also depends on the level of your tech-savvy knowledge and your readiness to operate, manage, and maintain the network.  

Even though self-management seems like a more affordable solution, it could cause you significant problems in the cybersecurity department. 

Since downtime is not something you can afford, we recommend finding a reliable and trustworthy managed network provider with a range of solutions that can meet your specific networking needs. 


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