A Business’s Guide to Building A Wide Area Network

Establishing a wide area network between sites is a smart move for a business with branches. But what do you need to keep in mind before you start? Several things, actually. We discussed them below.

Connections

First and foremost, decide how you’ll facilitate the connection between the offices. The data connection type depends on the distance the data has to travel and the bandwidth you will need.

Depending on the telecommunications provider you work with, the T1 or T3 connection you’ll be going for would differ in price. You’ll likely have to sign a multi-year agreement for the majority of them.

You could start a Virtual Private Network between the offices. The connection would be very secure. However, you’d need quite a bit of gear, which could be expensive if you’re a small business.

Equipment

For a direct line, a DSU/CSU is required. You’d need one for each end that connects to the telecommunication provider’s equipment. More importantly, a router is required. You should be mindful of the one you purchase as there are enough and more choices around. Cisco routers for small business tend to be safe as well as affordable. But they’re not suitable for companies with many branches.

You might be interested in a virtual private network. As discussed earlier, the equipment for it is pricy. You’ll need both a server for the VPN as well as the software itself. Depending on the supplier you choose, it could wrack you up a hefty bill.

Monitoring

Whether you’re using a VPN or wide area network, you need a way to monitor the data that is being passed through the lines. Something that would do this would be a network based IPS (Intrusion Prevention System). It would be needed for each end of the connection.

What the monitoring software does, is detect intrusions or any possible ones, and then take measures to prevent an attack. Along with a firewall, the IPS would make your network extremely secure.

Configuration

If you haven’t configured everything properly, data won’t be transferred through the sites. Unfortunately, configuration can be hard if you aren’t the most tech-savvy.

Some products are easier to connect than others. Switches are placed between each device in the network, in one specific site. Cisco switches configuration is pretty easy as even newbies can learn it.

If you’re buying all the equipment from one telecom provider, they’d do the setting up for you.

Security

We have to reiterate how important security is. The data that is passing through the sites could easily be intercepted if you don’t take preventive measures. An ISP would work, but it is not 100% reliable. A firewall would be double the protection. But get a hold of a good one – you might have to splurge.

Final Thoughts

Let’s sum things up. Having a WAN connection requires many things. The most important would be ample means of security. If intruders get access to company data, it could result in a data theft.

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