Internet Connection Options

Metro Ethernet
Metro Ethernet is a rapidly maturing networking technology that broadens Ethernet to the public networks run by telecommunications companies. IP-aware Ethernet switches enable service providers to offer enterprises converged voice, data, and video services such as IP telephony, video streaming, imaging, and data storage. By extending Ethernet to the metropolitan area, companies can provide their remote offices with reliable access to applications and data on the corporate headquarters LAN.
Benefits of Metro Ethernet include:
Reduced expenses and administration-Metro Ethernet provides a switched, high-bandwidth Layer 2 network capable of managing data, voice, and video all on the same infrastructure. This characteristic increases bandwidth and eliminates expensive conversions to ATM and Frame Relay. The technology enables businesses to inexpensively connect numerous sites in a metropolitan area to each other and to the Internet.
Easy integration with existing networks-Metro Ethernet connects easily to existing Ethernet LANs, reducing installation costs and time.
Enhanced business productivity-Metro Ethernet enables businesses to take advantage of productivity-enhancing IP applications that are difficult to implement on TDM or Frame Relay networks, such as hosted IP communications, VoIP, and streaming and broadcast video.
Choosing a WAN Link Connection
Now that we have looked at the variety of WAN connection options, how do you choose the best technology to meet the requirements of a specific business? The figure compares the advantages and disadvantages of the WAN connection options that we have discussed in this chapter. This information is a good start. In addition, to help in the decision-making process, here are some questions to ask yourself when choosing a WAN connection option.
What is the purpose of the WAN?
Do you want to connect local branches in the same city area, connect remote branches, connect to a single branch, connect to customers, connect to business partners, or some combination of these? If the WAN is for providing authorized customers or business partners limited access to the company intranet, what is the best option?
What is the geographic scope?
Is it local, regional, global, one-to-one (single branch), one-to-many branches, many-to-many (distributed)? Depending on the range, some WAN connection options may be better than others.
What are the traffic requirements?
Traffic requirements to consider include:
Traffic type (data only, VoIP, video, large files, streaming files) determines the quality and performance requirements. For example, if you are sending a lot of voice or streaming video traffic, ATM may be the best choice.
Traffic volumes depending on type (voice, video, or data) for each destination determine the bandwidth capacity required for the WAN connection to the ISP.
Quality requirements may limit your choices. If your traffic is highly sensitive to latency and jitter, you can eliminate any WAN connection options that cannot provide the required quality.
Security requirements (data integrity, confidentiality, and security) is an important factor if the traffic is of a highly confidential nature or if provides essential services, such as emergency response.
Should the WAN use a private or public infrastructure?
A private infrastructure offers the best security and confidentiality, whereas the public Internet infrastructure offers the most flexibility and lowest ongoing expense. Your choice depends on the purpose of the WAN, the types of traffic it carries, and available operating budget. For example, if the purpose is to provide a nearby branch with high-speed secure services, a private dedicated or switched connection may be best. If the purpose is to connect many remote offices, an public WAN using the Internet may be the best choice. For distributed operations, a combination of options may be the solution.
For a private WAN, should it be dedicated or switched?
Real-time, high-volume transactions have special requirements that could favor a dedicated line, such as traffic flowing between the data center and the corporate head office. If you are connecting to a local single branch, you could use a dedicated leased line. However, that option would become very expensive for a WAN connecting multiple offices. In that case, a switched connection might be better.
For a public WAN, what type of VPN access do you need?
If the purpose of the WAN is to connect a remote office, a site-to-site VPN may be the best choice. To connect teleworkers or customers, remote-access VPNs are a better option. If the WAN is serving a mixture of remote offices, teleworkers, and authorized customers, such as a global company with distributed operations, a combination of VPN options may be required.
Which connection options are available locally?
In some areas, not all WAN connection options are available. In this case, your selection process is simplified, although the resulting WAN may provide less than optimal performance. For example, in a rural or remote area, the only option may be broadband satellite Internet access.
What is the cost of the available connection options?
Depending on the option you choose, the WAN can be a significant ongoing expense. The cost of a particular option must be weighed against how well it meets your other requirements. For example, a dedicated leased line is the most expensive option, but the expense may be justified if it is critical to ensure secure transmission of high volumes of real-time data. For less demanding applications, a cheaper switched or Internet connection option may be more suitable.
As you can see, there are many important factors to consider when choosing an appropriate WAN connection. Following the guidelines described above, as well as those described by the Cisco Enterprise Architecture, you should now be able to choose an appropriate WAN connection to meet the requirements of different business scenarios.


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