4 Ways to Ease Your WAN Traffic

Thanks to the digital age, we use more devices at the same time. We communicate more through ISP-provided services and video conferencing. And we send and receive more large files through cloud applications. All of this added web activity has put wide area networks (WAN) and IT teams in a literal traffic jam of data. So, how do you ease all of the bottlenecking? Here are four ideas to help you manage the flow and increase your throughput.

We spend a lot of our lives on the road, either behind the wheel or in the passenger seat, and over the years, we’ve learned a few things. We know that roads are busier during rush hour. For instance, we know that badly maintained roads reduce the speeds of the vehicles on them. And, we know that if Aunt Martha is driving, she’ll never turn her blinker off.

Aunt Martha aside, your WAN may be experiencing similar issues. Thanks to the digital age, we use more devices at the same time. We communicate more through ISP-provided services and video conferencing. And we send and receive more large files through cloud applications. All of this added web activity has put wide area networks (WAN) and IT teams in a literal traffic jam of data. So, how do you ease all of the bottlenecking? Here are four ideas to help you manage the flow and increase your throughput:

Assess the Situation

Before you start directing IT traffic, you have to play the part of traffic reporter. (Sorry, no helicopter rides involved.) This is the eye-in-the-sky phase, where you analyze what your bottleneck sources are. Is it from all the extra mobile phones and laptops? Is it your wireless access points? Does your company upload and download large PDFs, CAD drawings or video files? Cloud-based hosted voice systems are a great communications tool that can save money and boost productivity…if your WAN can support it. Figuring out the main reasons for all the congestion and identifying when traffic is heaviest will give you the information you need to make the necessary changes.

Educate your Employees

Analyzing your traffic sources and patterns is good for a couple of reasons. It identifies the day-to-day traffic necessary for your company to conduct business. It also highlights areas where you (and, specifically your employees namely) can scale back. How many workers are using music streaming services? Or bouncing from one social media platform to another? Or watching YouTube or online shopping during their breaks? Consider creating policies on internet use. At the very least, educate your employees on how their non-business-related internet activity creates network slowdowns.

Diversify the Routes

Being stuck in a traffic jam is bad enough, but having no alternative route to take makes it extra frustrating. Are you relying only on MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching)? If so, consider transitioning to a hybrid environment that uses both MPLS networks and the public internet. With a separate internet pipe, you can free up your main network for more important data while directing other traffic such as wireless and videoconferencing systems—which can be bandwidth beasts—on a separate internet connection.

Prioritize the Traffic

Even without going hybrid and adding new routes, you can control traffic flow through technologies such as advanced switching. This platform allows you to prioritize how your information funnels through your network, ensuring that priority data doesn’t get stuck behind less-important data. This quality control routing can improve network speed and quality of service.

Of course, another option is to make the move to SD-WAN…which is a whole other topic of conversation. To learn more about Software Defined Networking, check out this article.

And if you’re looking for ways to increase the speed and quality of your company’s communications systems, contact us today to learn more about how we can help your business operate more efficiently and productively.