Most multinational corporations use Multi-Protocol Label Switching(MPLS) for Wide Area Network (WAN) implementation. However, the development of Software-defined WAN or SD-WAN is disrupting the industry today. But the question is can SD-WAN replace MPLS? Yes. In this blog, we go through the reasons why organizations are migrating to SD-WAN.

In the post-pandemic era, most enterprises have additional challenges like mobile workforce, increased cloud- and internet-based data traffic, as well as threats from cyber-attacks. These issues prompt businesses to seek more flexible solutions that MPLS simply cannot provide.

MPLS Pros Vs Cons

There are both pros and cons of SD-WAN and MPLS. MPLS provides secure, reliable, and predictable performance for companies with geographically distributed offices. It is perfect for enterprises with fixed infrastructure, onsite employees, and unchanging business needs.

However, the industry today has become more cloud driven and mobile centric. MPLS proves to be inadequate for:

  • Rapidly evolving businesses that require flexible IT infrastructure
  • Businesses that have remote and mobile workers with no fixed location
  • Businesses requiring increased cloud integration across multiple applications.

Using public internet infrastructure for organizations is not an option because it reduces network performance over time and the risk of cyber threats increases. MPLS can no longer meet the current demands of IT.

What is SD-WAN?

Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is a method for implementing a reliable, high-performance WAN. It is an overlay network that works with existing topology to manage real-time performance while also prioritizing business-critical applications and traffic.

Telegeography’s annual WAN Manager survey revealed enterprise MPLS usage to have dropped 24% from 2018-2021. SD-WAN Implementation proportionately increased by 43% in the same period. The research firm IDC predicts that SD-WAN infrastructure will be a $5.25-billion market in 2023.

If the figures alone are not convincing enough, here are eight more reasons why your business should make the switch to SD-WAN today.

Reasons to Migrate to SD-WAN

Reason 1 – Improved Network Efficiency and Speed

The cloud era has given rise to networking demands that need fast and innovative solutions. By virtualizing traffic management SD-WAN provides better quality of service, and reduces latency and other woes of the MPLS architecture.

Improved Network efficiency and speed

SD-WAN applies traffic optimization and proactively routes traffic in a cost effective manner. It can integrate efficiently with existing MPLS, broadband, Wireless, or VPN infrastructure.

Because it is software-defined, SD-WAN provides the ability to monitor and control several types of connections by routing traffic intelligently. Lower-priority data can be transported over cheaper public links while business-critical information is routed over the internal network.

Reason2 – Cost-Effective Installation and Maintenance

MPLS lines can cost a fortune and need significant investment to be fully realized

With SD-WAN, IT staff don’t need to overspend or overprovision WAN needs since data is routed intelligently and flexibly. The cost-effective benefit of the SD-WAN comes from the ability to shift non-essential traffic to broadband links, reducing expenses, and providing additional bandwidth.

SD-WAN can reduce ongoing operating expenses by switching from expensive MPLS lines to commodity broadband like fiber, cable, DSL, or even mobile technologies. It also offers simplified configuration and management, cutting down on administration expenses.

SD-WAN is more cost effective than MPLS, mainly in the infrastructure and deployment of services.. The cost savings of any business can vary depending on how extensively SD-WAN is implemented, whether as an adjunct solution or replacement to more expensive MPLS connections.

Reason 3 – Increased Network Resiliency at No Added Cost

Network resiliency is critical for enterprise today. On MPLS networks, resiliency can rack up expenses quickly. When a circuit breaks down, the network failover routes to the Public Internet via an IPSec VPN tunnel. This can potentially disrupt workflow, which consequently affects business operations. Single node dependency is higher in MPLS WAN.

On the other hand, SD-WAN is capable of routing traffic dynamically in cases of failed links. Enterprises deploying SD-WAN can have two or more ISPs that support every site and can receive traffic if one of these connections fails

In single-location businesses, resiliency can be achieved by using the cloud to optimize traffic.

Reason 4 – Highly Scalable Solution

Highly Scalable solution

MPLS architecture is rigid, making scalability a challenge. With SD-WAN, there’s no need to upgrade IT bandwidth just to get a reliable connection. Instead, it enables multiple links to be added without changing the existing infrastructure.

SD-WAN helps scale networks not only by adding resources, applications, or devices but also by meeting demands and revolutionizing the way traffic is processed. It allows enterprises to scale networks for remote users, branches, and locations, supporting business revenue growth.

Reason 5 – Easy to Configure and Manage

If you’ve been using MPLS for a long time, you will know how costly and extensive the infrastructure is. Multiple routers, firewalls, optimizers, and WAN path controllers are needed to operate site-to-site connectivity. These devices need to be regularly monitored, meaning that it’s more complicated to configure and maintain.

On the other hand, SD-WAN can be streamlined to software-enabled management that can easily scale and manage this architecture. It’s entirely possible to automatically configure policy, keys, and cryptographic certificates off the cloud. SD-WAN can also automate the mapping of traffic patterns, relieving businesses of the need to perform management and maintenance tasks daily.

This configuration only needs a central GUI to be managed, whereas traditional WAN requires an on-site technician to manually set up the infrastructure.

Reason 6 – Includes Powerful Security Add-ons

Like MPLS, SD-WAN is designed to be a networking solution with no integrated security.

However, most packages come with software-defined protection add-ons that enable the integration of third-party security solutions over SD-WAN. Software-based firewalls provide seamless scalability to manage traffic workload and enforce a unified policy that applies to all connected devices.

Reason 7 – High Network Visibility

For legacy WANs, router and firewalls are typically challenging to parse and do not give a clear insight into the traffic being routed. The box set up that SD-WAN delivers offers granular visibility of the entire network from a central GUI.

High Network Visibility

SD-WAN improves not only visibility but also uptime since failovers are seamless. Network insights make troubleshooting issues much faster. It is also easier to spot patterns in network traffic, making bandwidth management more accurate.

Reason 8 – Integrated Cloud Optimization

Legacy WAN infrastructure is not optimized for the cloud. SD-Wan, being a more modern solution, provides secure, high-performance connectivity to applications running on hybrid cloud and multi-cloud environments.

Implementing SD-WAN

SD-WAN has a simple, two-step implementation process that involves:

  1. Selecting the vendor – SD-WAN can be purchased as a software-hardware tandem, or a software solution running on commodity infrastructure. Choose a vendor that offers additional security integration and performance services to improve your ROI.
  2. Installation and Configuration- Follow the set-up instructions to quickly install the network and connect any hardware. Once this is done, services can be accessed via a GUI administrative portal, which lets you configure the traffic path selection.

SD-WAN – A Cost Effective Solution for Modern Enterprise

SD-WAN, in the sense of global deployment, is the more fitting alternative because it is agile and gives better cost-savings compared to MPLS. It is now the go-to WAN solution for enterprise networks because it improves productivity, allows flexibility, and delivers analytics like no other product on the market.

Deploying SD-WAN is a smart move for businesses, particularly to meet the demands of the Internet- and cloud-intensive applications.

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