Wide area networking refers to the interconnection of geographically dispersed offices separated by public rights-of-way. The Internet is actually a huge wide area network (WAN), and if your branches are all online, they’re technically already part of the same WAN. However, the Internet lacks the reliability, security and bandwidth that companies need for certain sensitive data and critical applications. In a library context, circulation records, cataloging records and financial records shouldn’t be sent over the public Internet unless they’re encrypted.
Reading a contract from the phone company or a bill from an Internet service provider (ISP) can cause experienced techies to shake their heads in confusion and frustration. Even by the standards of the technology sector, telecommunications professionals use a lot of acronyms and jargon. Moreover, the technology, terminology, services and prices all change frequently. Our intent is to introduce a few concepts that stay relatively stable and consistent. We’ll also be suggesting some criteria that you can use the next time you’re shopping for high-speed data lines.
In one sense, you already have an army of network monitors in your library. Every time something goes wrong, you probably get a few spontaneous alerts from patrons and colleagues. However, if you want preventive information and in-depth analysis of what’s happening on your network, you need network monitoring software.