Understanding MPLS and SD-WAN

Data routing on any network is similar to shipping a package. Data packets are forwarded from one router to the next until they eventually reach their destination. MPLS, or Multiprotocol Label Switching, makes this process faster by establishing pre-determined, highly efficient routes. Each router in the network has a table indicating how to handle specific packets. For example, real time voice and video packets can be assigned to low latency routes.

On the other hand, SD-WAN, or software-defined WAN, is a virtual network architecture with a centralized control system. SD-WAN essentially decouples the networking infrastructure from network functions. Instead of routers, a central software system, intelligently directs traffic throughout the network.

While both, MPLS and SD-WAN have their unique benefits depending on enterprise budget and requirement, more and more organizations are making the shift towards SD-WAN. This is mainly because SD-WAN is a cloud-based technology which offers advanced features such as bandwidth efficiency, a seamless on-ramp to the cloud and significant critical application performance. Enterprises are looking to replace MPLS with SD-WAN to improve resource utilization and add to profit margins.

Here are eight reasons why your organization should transition from MPLS to SD-WAN today!.

Reason 1 – Enhanced Performance

SD-WAN has a highly visible impact on the entire enterprise’s network performance. It can utilize your existing infrastructure to improve performance and increase efficiency without any elaborate cost investments. SD-WAN performance benefits include:

  • Enhanced scalability, visibility, control, and security
  • Greater performance for organizations that have multiple locations or large data centers
  • More efficient utilization of existing MPLS infrastructure.
  • Application-aware routing that reduces latency and improves performance.

Reason 2 – Decreased Bandwidth Issues

MPLS requires substantial, high bandwidth to work efficiently. This makes it an expensive proposition, especially for smaller enterprises. Organizations have to choose between exorbitant monthly costs or deal with intermittent bandwidth issues. SD-WAN, on the other hand, allows you to combine different, high and low bandwidth connections, giving pricing flexibility without bandwidth problems.

Reason 3 – Global Availability and Scalability

Global Availability and Scalability

The SD-WAN network grows with your organization. It can become a challenge for an enterprise, especially those with less number of branch offices to justify the expense of a virtual network via an MPLS connection. SD-WAN, on the other hand, provides all businesses with the flexibility to scale across physical borders and establish their presence at a much lower cost.

Reason 4 – Agnostic with Respect to Service Providers

Unlike MPLS, SD-WAN is service provider agnostic. This can be particularly helpful if your business requires connectivity at locations that are remote or not serviced by your specific MPLS vendor. An enterprise that has transitioned to SD-WAN need not settle for the average performance of a new MPLS service provider for such locations or pay an exorbitant price for high performance.

Reason 5 – Application Prioritization

Unlike MPLS, SD-WAN allows the configuration of multiple “network tunnels” at different priority levels or SLAs (service level agreements). This gives improved Quality of Service at the Application level. SD-WAN can tie underlying network connections with business logic, allowing application level traffic routing. Low priority applications are transmitted over less expensive infrastructure compared to high priority applications. Application availability increases as traffic is no longer mapped to one WAN service.

Reason 6 – Enhanced Security

SD-WAN gives high network visibility to administrators. This allows organizations to:

  • Control and monitor communication between different branches or locations
  • Increase security when applications connect to the cloud
  • Data insights on network traffic trends and patterns. Any anomalies can be identified quickly.

Therefore, a well implemented SD-WAN setup is more like an organization-wide security plan with maximum access and flexibility.

Reason 7 – Better Access to Cloud

As organizations adopt digital transformation initiatives including cloud strategies, they require network infrastructure that can complement this growth and development. MPLS was invented before cloud technologies were developed and does not support cloud networking intrinsically. For example, in an MPLS setup, access to the cloud is via the data center. On the other hand,

SD-WAN supports cloud technologies by:

Better Access to Cloud

  • Offering all your locations a secure and automated connection to a cloud
  • Offering SaaS (Software as a Service) setup for networks
  • Segmentation and multi-tenant capabilities
  • Control, consistent security, and manageability across different cloud environments

Reason 8 – Cost Efficiency

While the above reasons are compelling enough, the biggest motivation for enterprises to move from a pure MPLS environment to SD-WAN is the cost-efficiency. SD-WAN offers attractive operational and technological cost savings. It is a flexible and scalable, pay-as-you-go service model that significantly reduces per-megabyte cost of any enterprise networking operations.

SD-WAN Vs MPLS – Which to choose?

Both MPLS and SD-WAN come with unique attributes. Here is a brief comparison summary.

MPLS and SD WAN Pros:

  • Both ensure network reliability and improved Quality of Service in private WAN.
  • Both support classification of traffic into different priority and importance levels.
  • Both offer traffic predictability and configuration of traffic paths.

MPLS Cons:

  • High performance in an MPLS setup can come at a very unreasonable cost and this is its biggest disadvantage, especially for newer enterprises.
  • An MPLS network does not come with in-built data protection. If network security is not implemented correctly, the enterprise network can become vulnerable to unforeseen threats.

SD-WAN Pros:

  • An SD-WAN setup gives the administrator greater visibility and control over the entire enterprise network. This visibility is critical for the efficient working of any organization.
  • SD-WAN is a cost-efficient and flexible solution. You can adopt SD-WAN without any significant set-up costs that dent your bottom line.
  • Lastly, security is another major advantage of SD-WAN implementation. This is due to certain in-built features and data insights which can be used to identify and curtail potential security breaches.

SD-WAN Cons:

  • SD-WAN does not have any substantial disadvantages. Being a new technology, most organizations have not been able to fully adopt it just yet. Businesses currently still rely on old connections in order to keep internal and external operations ongoing. This is compensated by adopting a hybrid solution that integrates SDWAN over existing MPLS infrastructure.
  • There will be increased reliance on IT staff until the technology has ben set up and configured to your requirement.

Whether your enterprise is established or just starting out, SD-WAN is geared to supporting your business needs no matter where you are. Cost savings and security are offered in abundance, along with a granular quality of service. IT teams will need to take into account the entirety of their network infrastructure before committing to transition to SD-WAN. We’re here to help!  Please fill out the form and one of our specialists will reach out to you right away. Keep in mind that there is NO fee for our services since the carriers pay us a commission to help you.

Call us at

1-888-706-5656

for immediate service or fill out the
form and we’ll be in touch right away.
  • Please describe how we can help:
    What services are you considering to drive your business higher?
    What challenges are you currently facing?