The WAN is, perhaps, the most embattled part of the enterprise network. It is designed to carry small data packets between branch offices at high speeds, a function that it was more than capable of handling when it first became popular. But IT operations have changed substantially since then and the WAN has not been able to keep up.

Just a few years ago, enterprise IT setups involved having a central data center and then small-scale server systems at branch offices to distribute applications and services. This meant that WAN traffic was fairly minimal in nature and primarily dealt with communication between branch offices, not core services.

However, the consolidation of IT, which was built on virtualization, created a situation in which many businesses moved those small server closets at each branch office into their central facility and started sending much more data through the WAN. As if that was not problematic enough, the rise of cloud computing and enterprise video programs has also contributed to a major increase in WAN traffic, creating an environment in which the network is having to transmit data types and quantities that it is not really designed to handle.

According to a recent InformationWeek Reports study, these trends are leading to more companies having WAN performance problems. Approximately 69 percent of respondents to the survey said they believe WAN bandwidth requirements will increase either “significantly” or “somewhat” during the next 12 to 24 months.

Furthermore, the study found that a significant number of businesses are beginning to recognize that there are major flaws in WAN design that are limiting how much bandwidth can be handled in the network. Though it is worth noting that the problem is not necessarily the WAN as much as it is that traffic going through it does not fit what it was originally built to handle.

Despite these issues, approximately 44 percent of those polled explained that while they want to make WAN upgrades, they cannot afford to make a large-scale change to the infrastructure.

For businesses working to implement video solutions for internal collaboration, training and employee engagement plans, there are less expensive options than making a large-scale WAN upgrade. By turning to a video-specific connectivity solution, such as an enterprise content delivery network, organizations can simultaneously improve video performance and offload a significant amount of bandwidth from the WAN.