We often talk about computer networks, meaning machines that connect and share resources with the same goal.
It’s simple to think of such a network if you look at a corporate environment, for example. There are several desktops and notebooks connected, allowing communication between employees in that office.
But, of course, there are other networked resources: printers, video circuit cameras, storage servers, monitors etc. So, in effect, what we call a computer network is a set of several devices with processing power.
LAN? WLAN? WAN?
Now, dive in the example above. That network represents a delimited environment. The devices share an extension of physical space and all security features are also within this corporate perimeter.
This is the typical configuration of a Local Area Network (LAN).
LAN networks cover a limited area, with a narrow range of IPs. The networks of your company, of a university, of a hospital etc. can be a LAN.
Local networks can also be deployed without the use of cabling.
Wireless Local Area Networks are known as WLAN. In this case, radio waves are used to connect devices over the internet.
Now, imagine you need to communicate with a different office of your company that is 2,000 miles away. There are two ways to enable this communication.
The branch office may have a different LAN than the main office and the two networks will communicate using the Internet infrastructure – you can use a VPN network to traffic data more securely;
Or your company can adopt a Wide Area Network, known as WAN.
The internet is the prime example of a WAN network and interconnects devices around the world.
But companies can adopt this type of network, privately. Long-distance networks can keep corporate environments integrated, even if branches are far from each other. Therefore, companies with operations in different countries can adopt this type to ensure efficient communication.
What about SD-WAN?
The latest type of communication network is SD-WAN, a software-defined wide area network.
In this type, software defines resource balancing, which helps ensure better performance, especially with increasing use of cloud applications, while reducing costs.
These advantages are making many companies adopt this type of network deployment, rather than the traditional WAN.