The flexibility to combine cellular, wired, and satellite connections in a single multi-WAN interface improves uptime, keeping businesses connected
The phrase “less is more” may be a suitable ethos for a studio apartment, but in a world where connectivity is king, “more is more” often rings true. Just as having multiple avenues to reach a destination can offer reliability and efficiency during a commute, so can the use of dual WAN routers in the realm of networking.
What is dual WAN?
A dual WAN router has at least two WAN ports to accommodate connections from multiple Internet providers. These connections can be any combination of wired, cellular, or even satellite sources. Dual WAN routers — also known as hybrid WAN or multi-WAN routers — capitalize on the availability of secondary connections to fall back on if the primary connection fails. Using a dual WAN router also creates opportunities to optimize traffic using load balancing, bonding, and built-in SD-WAN capabilities.
Load balancing distributes network traffic across concurrent links to increase data throughput and improve reliability. Combined with an SD-WAN solution, users can create policies that restrict certain applications to one link, while other applications — typically with different priorities or bandwidth needs — utilize the other link.
Unlike load balancing, where two active, separate links carry unique data, link bonding combines multiple WAN connections into a single link. Creating a “fatter pipe” allows more data to flow through it faster. This is particularly useful when a single connection cannot sufficiently accommodate performance needs or where large volumes of data need to be uploaded, such as in the case of HD video applications.
Bonding also opens the ability to send duplicates of data down individual links. In this case, the focus is less on increasing the throughput and more on ensuring that 100% of the data reaches its destination. The data (or its copy) can still be delivered if one link fails. This feature is especially beneficial when sending mission-critical data in areas with unreliable service.
Dual WAN routers provide powerful options for diverse links
As businesses continue to depart from their steadfast reliance on wired connectivity, the strength of dual WAN routers lies in their ability to provide link diversity. According to an IDC survey, wired broadband and fiber were the most prevalent primary WAN connection types among a group of corporations in November 2022. A year later, the desire for 4G and 5G outpaced any other connectivity type. Further, IDC predicts that wireless first will not only become mainstream for WAN connectivity but will also be the catalyst for more than 65% of enterprise, industrial, and public sector organizations to “untether” their operations.
Although enterprises often want to better grasp reliability and performance before switching entirely to cellular, 5G continues to prove itself a worthy complement to or replacement for wired solutions. With a higher capacity for network failover and the ability to connect anywhere and move when needed — all at a lower cost compared to laying new cables — there’s a reason why its adoption continues to grow.
Enterprises are also showing piqued interest in using satellite as a link on dual WAN routers. When comparing Starlink vs. 5G, 5G still outperforms the low-orbit satellite solution in speed, coverage, capacity, security, and cost. That said, leveraging Starlink with other link types on a dual WAN router can provide critical connectivity that is often difficult to obtain in remote areas.
What are enterprises looking for in a dual WAN router?
Like many businesses, Valvoline Instant Oil Change locations found value in dual WAN routers and decided to standardize on this router that can serve cellular or wired connections based on the best options in the area. The flexibility to include a cellular connection as a primary or secondary WAN link helped the organization squelch network downtime and streamlined operations across all of its service centers. Here are key factors that enterprises such as Valvoline are looking for in a dual WAN router solution:
Improved reliability and uptime
By supporting a mix of wired, cellular, and even satellite connections through an all-in-one hybrid WAN, multi-WAN, or dual WAN router, enterprise businesses can achieve 99.99% uptime. If a single network link fails, there are others to fall back on, and the diversity lends itself to new ways of managing network traffic.
Over time — using technologies such as 5G network slicing through SD-WAN — businesses can achieve guaranteed performance from end to end, much like the coveted service-level agreements (SLAs) of MPLS connections.
IT control from anywhere
The ability to remotely manage and troubleshoot a network is vital for IT teams whose size, area of responsibility, and location vary greatly. Utilizing a cloud-based network management tool, IT has centralized visibility into WAN performance data and downtime information. If a critical need arises, it can be addressed without a truck role. Beyond the WAN, IT teams can also view and control many devices that operate on the LAN from the same pane of glass.
As bad actors become more advanced in their network hacking tactics, enterprises are scrambling for highly effective solutions that can be deployed on day 1.
A zero trust enterprise network is a “never trust; always verify” solution that provides secure access to the Internet and private and SaaS applications. Moreover, it protects against malicious activity and zero-day attacks and is easier to manage and more scalable than traditional VPNs
Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) is an additional layer of security providing third-party individuals, employees, and vendors access to resources on a case-by-case basis while preventing their lateral movement throughout the network.
By purposefully selecting dual WAN routers protected by zero trust architecture, enterprises can reduce their attack surface while simultaneously taking advantage of multi-WAN benefits.