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Networking For Multiple Business Locations
Public and private WAN networks connect two to many locales, including international locations

By: John Shepler

Many businesses, even smaller ones, often have more than one location. So how do you link these various business locations together and back to corporate headquarters? There are various techniques for doing this. Basically they fall into two categories. You use either a public or a private network to make the links.

Public Network Options
The appeal of a public network is made very attractive by the easy access and near universal connections of the Internet. You can pretty much get from anywhere to anywhere over the Internet, with a wide variety of access technologies that range from DSL, Cable broadband, cellular broadband, fixed location wireless, T1 lines, Ethernet and so on. Even dial-up is still an option if your needs for data transfer are very, very modest.

Internet Security Issues
The two big problems with using the Internet to interconnect your business are variable performance and lack of security. The performance issues can be minimized by using professional grade access networks, such as T1 lines. You can use the Internet securely by encrypting your data in a process called tunneling. This creates a VPN or Virtual Private Network over what is actually an insecure public network.

Private Network Options
Private networks are as simple as a point to point dedicated T1 line that links two business locations reliably and securely. This line is for your exclusive use. You can add encryption, if you want, for the ultimate in data security.

As you get more business locations, you can link them with additional T1 lines. This gets complex and expensive with many locations, so a star network with headquarters at the center of the star often makes the most sense.

The Metro Ethernet Solution
An alternative solution for companies with multiple locations in the same city is Metro Ethernet. Ethernet service can be set up as a point to point data connection or a mesh network that interconnects a number of locations together. Ethernet, where available, offers lower cost and higher bandwidths than traditional telecommunications services.

MPLS Spans The World
If you have a business with locations spread across thestate or country, even operations outside of the United States, MPLS networking may be your highest performance and lowest cost solution. MPLS is a private networking scheme that offers secure connections with guaranteed bandwidth. It’s becoming the core network technology of many large carrier and can transport just about any protocol you need.

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