What you need to know to build a solid Ethernet WAN

Building a resilient, high-capacity WAN has never been what I'd call simple. In the old days (you know, 10 years ago), it was typically a mishmash of frame-relay and point-to-point leased line circuits mixed with ATM in higher-end, converged applications. Today, those technologies and their successors are being displaced by a variety of IP-based Ethernet circuits. Although I think this shift to Ethernet-based WAN implementations is hugely liberating when it comes to WAN design, it has its drawbacks. Chief among those drawbacks: It becomes a lot more difficult to know exactly what you're buying. When I buy a point-to-point T1, I know with some certainty that I'll have a 1.5Mbps channel from site A to site B. The data I push into the pipe from the router at site A will end up at the site B side in exactly the same order and typically with a very predictable and consistent latency. Ethernet-based systems, while far more flexible and feature-rich, have a much higher degree of variability due in large part to the same flexibility they offer customers. As a result, you need to have a much better understanding of the technologies that modern Ethernet-based carriers use and what might differentiate the options you have available. Without that understanding, you might end up paying too much for a service that won't meet your needs in the long run.

To continue reading, register here to become an Insider. It's FREE to join.

This story, "What you need to know to build a solid Ethernet WAN" was originally published by InfoWorld.

Insider: How the basic tech behind the Internet works
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies