How Does WAN Aggregation Optimize Enterprise Connectivity?

How Does WAN Aggregation Optimize Enterprise Connectivity?

Over half (54%) of all companies have experienced an internet downtime incident that lasted at least eight hours.1 Connectivity issues like frequent disruptions and slow speeds can harm productivity, collaboration, and mission-critical processes. To address these challenges, more enterprises are turning to Wide Area Network (WAN) aggregation, a powerful solution that optimizes network performance, reliability, and scalability.

In this guide, we'll explain the importance of WAN aggregation and how it can revolutionize your enterprise's connectivity.

What Is WAN Aggregation?

WAN aggregation, also known as link load balancing or multilink aggregation, is the practice of combining multiple internet connections from different service providers or technologies – such as broadband, fiber, or cellular – into a single aggregated WAN connection. Aggregating these connections offers businesses seamless connectivity and better overall network performance.

How Does WAN Aggregation Work?

WAN aggregation works by leveraging specialized software or hardware to intelligently distribute network traffic across multiple WAN links. WAN ports are the physical interfaces that enable multiple internet connections to be integrated into a WAN aggregation solution. By configuring and combining WAN ports through link aggregation protocols and aggregation groups, routers or aggregation devices can effectively distribute network traffic across the bundled connections to provide increased bandwidth, redundancy, and scalability for enterprise networks.

Here are the factors involved in establishing an aggregated WAN connection:

  • WAN Port Configuration: Each WAN port on the router or aggregation device needs to be configured to accept and manage a separate internet connection. This typically involves assigning the appropriate settings, such as IP addressing, gateway information, and authentication credentials for each respective connection.
  • Link Aggregation Protocol: To enable WAN aggregation, the router or aggregation device must support a link aggregation protocol, such as Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP) or EtherChannel. This protocol allows the device to recognize and combine the multiple WAN connections into a single logical link.
  • Aggregation Group: Once the WAN Ethernet ports are configured and the link aggregation protocol is enabled, the router or aggregation device creates an aggregation group. This group bundles the individual WAN ports and their respective internet connections into a single virtual interface or link.
  • Traffic Distribution: With the aggregation group established, the router or aggregation device can now distribute network traffic across the combined WAN connections. This is typically done using load-balancing algorithms that consider factors like current bandwidth usage, latency, and link quality to determine the most efficient path for data transmission.
  • Failover and Redundancy: One of the biggest benefits of WAN aggregation is redundancy. If one of the WAN connections fails or experiences performance issues, the router or aggregation device can automatically reroute traffic to the remaining active WAN Ethernet ports and their associated connections, minimizing downtime and ensuring continuous connectivity.


LAN Aggregation vs. WAN Aggregation

While both Local Area Network (LAN) aggregation and WAN aggregation involve combining multiple network connections, they serve different purposes and operate at different scales. Here are the primary differences:

  • LAN aggregation combines multiple network connections between a router and client devices within a local network to improve throughput and redundancy for those devices.
  • WAN aggregation combines multiple internet connections from various service providers, improving the overall internet connectivity and bandwidth for an entire organization or branch.

What Are the Benefits of WAN Aggregation?

WAN aggregation offers several advantages that can enhance the network performance of a business, including:

Increased Bandwidth

By combining multiple internet connections from different providers, WAN aggregation effectively increases the total available bandwidth for your organization. This enhanced bandwidth capacity enables faster data transfers and improved performance for bandwidth-intensive applications like video conferencing, large file transfers, and cloud-based services. With more bandwidth at your disposal, you can support more users and devices without compromising network speed or reliability.

Lower Latency

Latency can impact the performance of real-time applications like Voice over IP (VoIP), video conferencing, and online collaboration tools. WAN aggregation addresses this issue by continuously monitoring the available links and intelligently routing traffic through the fastest available path. This dynamic traffic management ensures that data is transmitted over the most efficient route, reducing latency and delivering a smoother, more responsive experience for users.

Better Connectivity

Network downtime can result in productivity losses, disrupted operations, and potential revenue loss. WAN aggregation mitigates this risk by improving redundancy and continuity. With multiple links from different providers, if one connection fails, traffic is automatically rerouted to the remaining active links to minimize the impact on your network's connectivity. This redundancy ensures your business stays connected, even in the event of an outage or service disruption with a specific provider.

Improved Reliability

By intelligently distributing traffic across multiple links, the risk of a single point of failure is drastically reduced. Even if one or more connections experience performance issues or outages, your network remains operational, and critical applications and services continue to function seamlessly. This enhanced reliability translates to increased uptime and consistent access to mission-critical resources.

More Scalability

As businesses grow and their network demands evolve, scalability becomes a critical consideration. WAN aggregation provides the flexibility to easily scale network capacity up or down by adding or removing connections as needed. This scalability allows enterprises to adapt to changing requirements without disrupting existing operations or investing in costly infrastructure overhauls. Whether you're expanding to new locations, accommodating more users, or implementing new bandwidth-hungry applications, WAN aggregation ensures that your network can grow seamlessly.


How Do WAN Aggregation and WAN Virtualization Differ?

While both WAN aggregation and WAN virtualization aim to improve network performance and reliability, they achieve these goals through different approaches.

WAN aggregation focuses on combining multiple physical internet connections into a single logical link to increase bandwidth and redundancy. WAN virtualization is an emerging technology that enables the creation of a virtual WAN fabric by introducing bandwidth from multiple unique sources at each location. It provides a robust and flexible WAN interconnection between remote networks and data centers, often complementing existing WAN optimization deployments.

How Do You Apply WAN Aggregation to SD-WAN?

A 2023 survey found that 75% of enterprises are planning to deploy or are already using SD-WAN,2 which simplifies and optimizes the management of enterprise WANs. When combined with WAN aggregation, SD-WAN can leverage multiple aggregated links to maximize bandwidth usage and ensure critical applications receive the priority they need. 

SD-WAN with WAN aggregation enables features like tunnel bandwidth aggregation, which maximizes bandwidth utilization by intelligently distributing traffic across multiple links. It also improves throughput between locations, as traffic can be automatically rerouted to alternative links in case of failures for a seamless user experience.


Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about WAN aggregation.

What is a WAN Aggregation Router?

A WAN aggregation router is a specialized network device designed to accept multiple internet connections from various sources or service providers. It combines these connections into a single, aggregated link, providing higher bandwidth and redundancy to the connected network. These routers typically feature multiple WAN ports or interfaces to accommodate the different internet connections and support technologies like LACP for efficient traffic distribution.

What is WAN port aggregation?

WAN port aggregation refers to the process of combining multiple WAN ports or connections into a single logical link using WAN aggregation technology. This allows businesses to leverage multiple internet connections simultaneously, effectively increasing the total available bandwidth and providing redundancy for improved internet connectivity. WAN port aggregation is a key component of WAN aggregation solutions, enabling the seamless integration of various internet sources into a unified, high-performance connection.

How do you set up WAN aggregation?

Setting up WAN aggregation typically involves configuring both your router and modem to support the aggregation of multiple internet connections. While your specific WAN aggregation setup may vary depending on the make and model of your devices, the general process includes:

  1. Ensuring your router and modem support WAN aggregation and Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP).
  2. Enabling the WAN aggregation feature on both the router and modem through their respective configuration interfaces.
  3. Connecting multiple internet connections (e.g., broadband, fiber, cellular) to the designated WAN ports or interfaces on the router and modem.
  4. Configuring the WAN aggregation settings, such as load balancing policies, failover rules, and bandwidth allocation preferences.
  5. Testing and monitoring the aggregated connection to ensure proper traffic distribution and redundancy.

It's important to consult the documentation provided by your device manufacturers and follow their recommended procedures for setting up WAN aggregation correctly.

Does link aggregation increase internet speed?

No, link aggregation itself does not directly increase the speed or bandwidth of individual internet connections. However, by combining multiple connections through link aggregation (also known as WAN aggregation), the total available bandwidth for your network effectively increases. This increased bandwidth capacity typically results in faster data transfer speeds and better network performance, especially for bandwidth-intensive applications and scenarios involving large file transfers or streaming.

It's important to note that the actual improvements in speed will depend on factors like the individual connection speeds being aggregated, the efficiency of the aggregation technology, and the network load or traffic patterns. While link aggregation does not directly increase the speed of each individual link, it provides a more efficient and scalable way to utilize the combined bandwidth of multiple connections simultaneously.


Leverage WAN Aggregation for Your Multi-Location Enterprise

As enterprises continue to embrace digital transformation, WAN aggregation can future-proof their network infrastructure and enable them to scale bandwidth capacity effortlessly as their connectivity demands evolve. By consolidating internet connections from all of their providers, enterprises can ensure consistent, high-speed connectivity across every branch and office – facilitating seamless communication and collaboration and supporting mission-critical applications and data transfers that are essential for business continuity.

As a leading provider of enterprise connectivity solutions, TailWind understands the challenges of juggling multiple carriers and connectivity solutions across all of your locations. That's why we offer comprehensive access management services designed to simplify and optimize your enterprise's connectivity needs.

Our broadband aggregation service leverages the power of WAN aggregation to consolidate your internet connections from various providers into a single, streamlined solution. We'll handle everything from designing cost-effective aggregation solutions to implementing, managing, and monitoring broadband services across your entire organization.

By partnering with TailWind for broadband aggregation, you'll benefit from:

  • Consolidated Billing: Receive a single invoice for all carriers and connections to simplify your accounting processes.
  • Industry-Leading SLAs: Enjoy reliable service backed by our commitment to uptime and performance.
  • Broadband Options: Choose from a wide range of connectivity options, including broadband, fixed wireless, DIA, fiber, and P2P.
  • Advanced Speeds: Access the industry's widest range of advanced speeds, from 1.5 Mbps to 1 Gig, to meet your bandwidth requirements.

Ready to optimize your enterprise connectivity? Reach out to TailWind today to get started.