VPN Tunnel Versus Private WAN Service

As your business grows you may need to open branch offices either in the same city or in remote locations. At these locations you will want to provide your employees with access to the same IT services as are available at your headquarters. A key decision point will be in selecting your Wide Area Network solution.

Private WAN Serivces

Private WAN solutions are normally purchased through your Broadband carrier and provide a dedicated, private and low latency connection between locations. Commonly these are sold as Metro Ethernet or MPLS circuits providing either point to point or point to multi-point topologies. While more expensive than an Internet service connection, these Private WAN circuits provide some enhanced characteristics that are useful for certain cases:

  • Dedicated Bandwidth and Burstable Options - Carriers are able to dedicate capacity and occasionally will also offer "bursting" capabilities to deliver more speed for short durations and improve your overall network performance.
  • Latency - Private WAN connections are not subject to the delays associated with transiting public Internet networks and can offer more direct geographical routing
  • Service Level and Redundancy - Private WAN connections can be contracted to provide built in redundancy (diverse paths). Additionally, Private WAN solutions should also carry an enhanced Service Level Agreement guaranteeing uptime and reliability (which are not generally available on commodity Internet connections).
  • Complex Networks - Private WAN solutions can often be tailored to best integrate with your existing network, especially if you have a large, complex or heavily segmented network architecture.
  • Differentiated Services and QoS - Private WAN solutions are able to provide different levels of differentiated service to your various applications and systems. In essence you are able to prioritize mission critical traffic at the expense of less critical traffic in times when the connection is heavily used or saturated. This type of differentiated service can be exceedingly important to guaranteeing the performance of real time applications.

Private WAN connections are more costly than other solutions, but carry with them a range of high end features and functionality that is useful for organizations with more stringent performance requirements.

Site to Site VPN Solutions

Site to Site VPN solutions leverage encryption technologies to provide an encrypted "tunnel" across a public Internet connection, allowing you to cost effectively extend your business network to remote locations. Often times these solutions can be implemented over almost any commodity Internet service available in your area, but do have some drawbacks and limitations.

  • Benefits
    • Cost Effiective - requires specialized hardware
    • Quick Deployment - does not require speicalized configuration from your Broadband provider (normally)
  • Drawbacks
    • Speed and peformance are not guaranteed
    • Latency is increased due to encryption overhead
    • Some network applications may not function well over a VPN without special configuration (multicast, broadcast)
    • VPN hardware can be a "choke point" for network speed due to the encryption and decryption process

When selecting the best overall WAN solution for your business, keep in mind the different options available to you and be sure that you are getting the best performance and value for the money you are spending.