SD-WAN and MPLS are both designed to provide reliable, high-performance, and confidential network connectivity.

As organisations expand and crisscross the globe, the challenge of connectivity also grows. IT teams must build networks that adhere to guidelines and reasonably low costs. At the same time, the teams must find a way to meet an organisation’s expectations for security, reliability, functionality, and ease of use. These challenges become magnified when factoring in the reduction of performance and increase of the cost to remote link locations.

For decades, Wide-Area-Networking (better known as WAN) relied upon the internet and MPLS for connectivity. However, businesses are increasingly using cloud-based apps and digital ways of connecting. This poses the question to IT teams of how to link many sites effectively and create dependable, cost-effective ways to maintain high-performance resources.

What is MPLS?

Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) is a secure connection used to transport data from various locations to others using preset paths. Companies must build lines at data interchanges. These individual links enhance privacy and security, which are the hallmarks of MPLS.

While it is secure and dependable, MPLS is costly. On occasions where traffic is backhauling, distance-induced delays and the limited capacity offered by MPLS, Internet speeds become slow. Often the lag will hamper performance and frustrate users. Additionally, these systems are difficult to update and grow. Companies can expect to sustain costly losses if poor user experience becomes the norm.

What is SD-WAN?

Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is a highly adaptable and cost-effective solution for network connections. In addition to linking sites such as different company offices, this method connects to data centres, cloud instances, and telecommuting staff devices.

SD-WAN has several facets that make it quite different from MPLS.

  • The system can manage a variety of connections (such as MPLS, internet, and LTE) and find the best way to route the traffic in real-time
  • SD-WAN operates in a highly cost-effective way and can offer businesses that use it significant savings
  • Because SD-WAN is built differently, the system creates an improved user experience along with enhanced flexibility
  • Its adaptability allows SD-WAN to prioritise data based on how it is classified. Additionally, the system will choose the fastest, most affordable, and most reliable route available
  • Because the SD-WAN system chooses pathways based on the priority of the data, information will reach productive teams, create a seamless app performance, and significantly decrease service interruptions. All of these improvements will enhance business performance.

Six SD-WAN Advantages Over MPLS

  1. Businesses can prepare for the future with SD-WAN. This includes moving to a SASE architecture and the impending cloud-based secure networking
  2. SD-WAN can meet the needs of telecommuters, applications, and cloud-based data without excessive price increases
  3. Bandwidth can be increased on-demand
  4. Automatically finds the best routes for data
  5. SD-WAN can reduce operating costs because of its flexibility
  6. MPLS technology needs inflexible physical connections for network communication. Therefore, it will not be able to support the future needs of businesses

Should SD-WAN Replace MPLS Across the Board?

For several decades, MPLS has proven to be reliable and relevant. While SD-WAN has many features that make it superior to MPLS, there are several reasons it will not completely replace it.

  • Security compliance in specific areas where privacy is a premium (like healthcare) necessitates the continued use of MPLS for the foreseeable future
  • MPLS frequently performs in real time better than SD-WAN
  • Specific sectors may opt for the reliable network connectivity it provides. This is especially true for critical aspects of a business’s operations.
  • Transitioning from MPLS to SD-WAN takes time, effort, and money. Not all organisations can afford to put those resources towards a total transformation
  • Many companies are operating with a hybridised version of both MPLS and SD-WAN. The flexibility of SD-WAN makes this possible

Determining the Best Connectivity Choice for Your Company

Deciding between SD-WAN and MPLS is a multifaceted choice with some factors to consider:

  • Operational budget
  • Compliance requirements
  • Physical distances between company headquarters and various offices
  • Flexibility requirements
  • Security

While organisations may differ significantly on several of these points, security tops the list of every company’s needs.

Security Implications of SD-WAN and MPLS

Even though SD-WAN has numerous advantages over MPLS, security is an area where the design of MPLS makes it inherently more secure. Essentially, every pathway is well-defined and limits access accordingly.

Fortunately, this is not an either-or situation. Because SD-WAN works with a virtualised overlay, using both MPLS and SD-WAN becomes an excellent option for some companies.

ICT Group understands the essential nature of making the correct decision when it comes to SD-WAN and MPLS. Our team of experts will carefully consider your company’s individual needs and best interests as we help you make your choice. If you would like to learn more about how we can assist your business, feel free to contact us. We will take care of your connectivity so you can take care of your business.