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A wide area network (WAN) connects a group of computers and other network devices over geographically dispersed locations. An enterprise WAN typically connects branch offices or remote employees to the company’s datacenter, giving users access to applications, cloud services, and other corporate resources.
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Enterprise WANs allow organizations to embrace mobility, centralize IT infrastructure, enhance productivity, and facilitate business growth. They often play a critical role in how employees work and communicate, provide services to customers, and complete other business-critical activities—making network availability, reliability, and security essential. However, WAN challenges like network congestion or latency can cause slow app performance and dropped connections, which result in a poor user experience and lost productivity.
To address these challenges, organizations may add bandwidth or implement a number of optimization techniques, such as traffic prioritization, deduplication, compression, and local caching. But, as market trends and business demands continue to shift, many organizations are finding that these traditional approaches to improving WAN performance are ineffective. This is leading to an evolution of the WAN architecture using software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) technology. This new approach can be used to improve the availability and performance of the WAN while reducing network costs.