Internet was never possible without the invention of intelligent switches, satellites, fibre optic cables and LAN cards. Those who find it difficult to get idea of wide area network, internet is one live example of it. Before we look into Wide Area Network (WAN), we must have an understanding of what is Local Area Network (LAN).
Local Area Network, as the name suggests, is a network built in a limited area by using LAN cables, switches and LAN cards. One example is a network of a university or a business office at one location. The computers on a Local Area Network are connected to a network switch. You can either make this network a workgroup (share limited resources) or domain (share all kind of resources and services). On domain, you have the privilege to grant permissions to users to share resources or limit them to use certain services. As LAN can only work within a certain distance, we need WAN to connect institutions and offices at different locations.
WAN connects two or more LANs, and this is possible with the use of devices like routers. There are many ways to build a Wide area network. You can either lay down your own cables between two or more locations or you can use leased lines. Most companies use leased lines as very limited companies can bear the cost of thousands pounds for it.
The businesses and institutions get leased lines from different service providers and pay them on monthly basis. Today, many companies are establishing Virtual Private Network (VAN) by using leased lines. A VAN can be established by buying Live IPs from the service provider, at two or more different locations. To secure this network, the Network Administrator uses routers and firewalls to secure the network.
On WAN, the users at different locations are connected to a central server. The name of this computer is server because it is there to serve all the computers on the network. All the computers on the network are connected to central database on the server. These computers save data at real time, send queries to server and fetch reports at the same time. The banking system is a very good example of a WAN network.
The benefits of a Wide area network are unlimited. You sit in one country, and the office in the other country is just like a room next door. You can share documents, reports, prints, query databases, search through thousands of records in just quick seconds, monitor distant location offices by using digital cameras and do much more. The advantages of a Wide area network are infinite; it is up to you what benefits you want to get using this technology; the sophistication obviously increases with the cost factor.
With many advantages of Wide area network, there are also some disadvantages associated, which though can be addressed by using latest technologies. On WAN, the security is a big factor. When you connect on the internet using Live IPs, anyone can intrude in and hack your system. For this purpose, firewalls and routers securities are implemented, which definitely come with on the expense of thousands pounds. The latency period on WAN is high, but it can also be addressed by taking high speed internet connections. To establish a Wide Area Network, the businesses and institutions need a lot of money, as technologies that make your network secure as well as serve your needs are very costly.