What Is WAN Edge? WAN (wide area network) edge refers to all the security and networking infrastructure that connects various distributed enterprise locations (such as retail stores, branch offices, data centers, cloud environments, and schools) to other sites, as well as to data, applications, and services delivered from data centers and clouds. A combination of software and hardware delivers connectivity and works to provide security and reliability to the network.
WAN edge technology traditionally consisted of hardware such as edge routers (a.k.a. branch routers, which act as gateways at the edge of the network), WAN optimization solutions, and security appliances. Each item handled its own functions and the entire model centered around a conventional router. All traffic had to be backhauled from branch offices to a data center or hub in order for advanced security services to take place. This caused a significant delay, which resulted in a loss of productivity and a poor user experience.
There is an emerging need for the provision of additional capabilities over the network, such as seamlessly integrating public cloud environments, managing bi-directional connectivity to on-premise appliances, and running distributed application components at the edge. The influence of SD-WAN, digital transformation, and the increased adoption of the cloud are driving WAN edge technology improvements. Modern WAN edge infrastructure incorporates traditional routing functionality as well as network functions such as firewalls, secure routers, WAN optimization, WAN path control, SD-WAN (software-defined WAN).
Wide area networking (WAN) is a type of networking technology that provides enterprise locations with connectivity to disparate IT resources. These may include private and public data centers and cloud environments. WAN edge solutions connect users to enterprise resources as well as to IaaS (infrastructure as a service) and SaaS (software as a service).
A WAN edge technology that simplifies operations should:
- have a simple configuration.
- feature unified management via a central controller.
- be application-centered.
- have zero-touch deployment capabilities.
The technology is evolving to a decentralized architecture capable of handling cloud workloads. Thus, WAN edge functionality can be delivered via physical or virtual appliances. In order to work, WAN edge infrastructure needs to be network-provider agnostic.