Editor's note

WAN is the workhorse of your networking "wardrobe," if you will. It's an essential piece of technology that keeps your users happily connected and productive and your enterprise systems going strong. But that doesn't mean WAN is boring; in fact, the new WAN technology is snazzier than ever.

This timeless guide will explain all you need to know to be up to date on WAN basics and the new WAN tools emerging in the market. But we also cover the latest developments: optimization, outsourced management, how the cloud affects the WAN -- it's all here. This guide even has info for those curious about the latest in WAN architecture: the software-defined WAN (SD-WAN).

Read on to get informed on the wide area network of today and the fast-coming future WAN.

1Outsource your WAN management? Sure!

Thanks to the arrival of cloud, outsourcing WAN management is possible -- and it shouldn't be scary or complex. Learn how others have done it and how to set up server provider management for your WAN.

2When it comes to WAN, performance is crucial

In many ways the WAN is the workhorse of enterprise communication. Without a well-functioning WAN, work, well, stops. In this segment, learn about the criticality of WAN performance for everything, including the corporate bottom line, and why faster provisioning and rolling WAN optimization, management and security together is a good idea.

3Why WAN is the new black

The WAN is a basic essential. But it's also been updated for the latest styles of work and communication. The new WAN platform of today's enterprise must be flexible and super-responsive. In this section, you'll learn about the new WAN -- which may be virtualized (vWAN) or come in a hybrid form -- and the myriad forces driving its development.

4Is now the time to get your WAN software defined?

Is this the decade of software-defined everything? Seems so, and the WAN is no exception. But what exactly is an SD-WAN? This module will explain it all and will help you determine whether your new WAN should be an SD-WAN and, if so, how to make that a reality.