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Analysis: Enterprise WANs



Enterprises typically have had few options for connecting remote offices, particularly those in obscure locations or foreign countries. Telecom operators ruled the virtual roost, and IT groups were at the mercy of carriers demanding high prices while delivering questionable quality and support, with nominal penalties for violating service-level agreements.

No longer. The WAN winds are shifting, giving IT groups significant leverage. The global spread of high-speed DSL and all-fiber backbones means Internet performance is good enough for most applications. Although the Internet has always been a relatively inexpensive option vis-à-vis private networks, the price-performance gap is narrowing all the time, while compliance requirements that mandate encryption reduce private data networks' perceived security edge.

Bottom line, when it comes to WANs, IT managers should keep their options open. Today's providers are focused on consumer business and may not be updating their private WAN infrastructures. As this equipment ages and providers cram more Layer 3 VPN connections into older routers, we could face the sporadic multiday outages companies saw in the waning days of frame relay.

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