A Guide to WAN Architecture


The wide area network (WAN) is always evolving and is a valuable and fundamental resource for all businesses. As the WAN evolves so must the architecture. Today’s WAN architecture must include specific aspects to support the needs of businesses today and in the future including:

  • Prioritizing Applications
  • More capacity for lower costs
  • Cloud access
  • Maintaining high-security standards over the WAN

Think of the WAN as the heart of your enterprise. It connects all your company resources together. The ideal WAN must be flexible to expand as your company expands and scalable. Additionally, WAN should secure and control all aspects of your business resources. This detail is what sets traditional WAN apart from agile, fast ones which are more likely to have a direct impact on a business’s opportunity to grow.

Here are important things to note when choosing a WAN architecture:

Prioritize critical application traffic such as voice and video

The WAN links’ quality heavily impacts the performance of a company’s most vital applications.

WAN quality includes:

  • availability
  • utilization
  • latency
  • packet loss
  • jitter

Businesses that deploy technologies that allocate and classify traffic in real-time based on link quality and company policies will ensure application performances.

Sensitive applications may use lower quality links and demanding applications can use higher quality links. Each directed to the correct one.

Provide access to cloud services

When a company moves applications to cloud services, they reduce operational costs and provisioning time. Many businesses already utilize cloud services increasing the challenge of keeping the services secure and monitored. If the cloud service is not scalable it will cause both security and technical problems.

Choosing a WAN with technology that unifies the security tools, events for their environments (including both the cloud and on-site) and management is a better choice for a company looking to utilize cloud services best practices.

Boost capacity and reduce costs

While traditionally businesses using MPLS-based WAN needing remote branch connectivity have used backhauling practices this no longer makes sense. A company data center is no longer essential with traffic going to the cloud. Eliminating the need for data centers reduces costs and remote offices.

Instead, companies can offload or eliminate traffic such as internet-bound traffic from MPLS links and use dual internet and/or wireless backup.

Increase WAN security

As we just noted traditional WAN architecture required internet traffic to be backhauled to a central breakout. A firewall in the datacenter was a simple solution to manage but as business traffic shifted backhauling increases the latency of cloud-based applications and has a negative impact on the user experience. New WAN architecture enables direct internet access to all office branches and is secure at every location.

Cato Networks provides a unique alternative to traditional WAN. It converges SD-WAN and adds security, cloud and mobile integration. To find out more about Cato’s SD-WAN offering please read our response to NeedToChange RFP.