An enterprise seeking to connect its multiple locations and remote team members must consider various factors that will affect overall costs and network performance. Designing a multi-site wide area network (WAN) that can support voice, video, data, and local area network (LAN) traffic requires careful inclusion of company goals. You’ll also need to consider emerging technologies, ever-changing security needs, and network throughput.
Your first step is to consider the enterprise and its goals, including planned applications, connectivity to outside entities (suppliers, customers, and stakeholders,) local and remote access requirements, and competitive considerations, among others. These goals will be primarily influenced by whether you intend to build a new network from scratch, update an existing network or integrate your network with other networks.
Assuming you have an existing network, you should continue the process by creating an inventory of the network and identifying the circuits, hardware, software supporting the network, and all network-related costs. Measure network performance in terms of throughput, dropped packets, and latency to determine your baseline.
If you’re creating a multi-site WAN from fixed private lines and virtual private networks (VPNs), you’ll need a WAN designed for traffic generated at each network node, plus remote user and inter-node channel traffic. Once you’ve identified these traffic patterns, you can initiate the design of the network. The WAN may require node positioning, local access bandwidth, or device configuration modifications. It may be beneficial to replace private lines with multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) pathways for improved cost and performance.
Next, you’ll need to engage in discovery, which identifies each component residing on the network, often through software that can locate and describe all devices on the network. Performance analysis using a network analyzer will then help you examine how the network works in areas like bandwidth, throughput, and latency.
You can examine all of this data with network simulation software, which helps determine how the network is performing within today’s parameters and how you can expect it to perform in light of future requirements.
Considering Managed Services
For most enterprises big and small, multi-site WAN design is typically best left to the experts. This is a common approach for organizations that don’t have the staffing or resources to handle network design in-house. Managed services not only design and install, but they also offer regular monitoring of the network performance.
Predicting Multi-Site WAN Performance
In anticipation of placing a new application on your network, examining its impact on your WAN resources is essential. Consider the following:
It can take a long time for data to transmit across a WAN, so consider including protocols requiring receivers to acknowledge data delivery to measure travel time accurately.
Even in a well-designed multi-site WAN, you may lose packets due to errors or the intentional removal of certain traffic to maintain performance levels.
A reliable network retransmits lost packets, but this introduces delays in resending and waiting for users to receive the data in the correct order.
This refers to the amount of traffic a given network can carry and is usually expressed in terms such as megabits per second.
Optimizing Your Multi-Site WAN
Additional factors that can impact WAN performance include compression, encryption, and network signaling. When optimizing your multi-site WAN, you should consider the following:
Even though the network designer should perform WAN capacity planning before network installation, it will be a relatively regular activity. The following steps offer a methodology for capacity planning:
- Gain a clear understanding of network activities, including voice communications, email, and remote access.
- Examine service and usage requirements.
- Assess network performance with data from endpoints, switches, and routers.
- Review performance audit reports.
- Evaluate bandwidth demand versus infrastructure support.
- Determine the type and number of devices the network will support in the future.
- Analyze present network configurations.
- Determine the total amount of bandwidth required, and evaluate the type of circuits needed to support traffic.
- Analyze network redundancy requirements and their impact on capacity.
- Test and validate multi-site WAN to measure your traffic generators’ performance with network design software.
Determine Bandwidth Requirements
To adequately support bandwidth requirements, you should keep an eye on emerging opportunities. Consider the following factors:
- Number of users, both current and potential, consuming network resources
- Network activities, including email, audio and video, file transfers, and applications that support data transfers
- Devices used on the network
- Expectations for performance and speed
- The frequency of data being downloaded and uploaded
- Security concerns, including data encryption
Optimize Your Multi-Site WAN With TailWind
Building a multi-site WAN isn’t just about establishing a connection; it’s also about optimizing your network to drive business goals. To learn more about network design and how it can improve productivity and provide cost savings, contact us at TailWind. We offer certified onsite technician support and high-speed broadband connectivity to support your WAN.