For the last couple of decades, large company wide-area networking (WAN) services have used multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) as the mainstay. This has served a useful purpose by enabling companies to securely route and prioritize traffic over the network. MPLS requires programming at the hardware level, but SD-WAN changes that. It enables the intelligence to be brought into the software layer. Now, many businesses are either switching to SD-WAN or analyzing whether they should do so. So, which is the right option for your business; MPLS or SD-WAN?
There are a few advantages of MPLS, which is why many companies are still using it. For a start, the technology is reliable and proven. It has served enterprises for many years, providing direct routes between edges, and many organizations therefore see little need to change. The connection is also high quality. With no jitter or fixed latency to worry about, it provides a consistent user experience. Obviously, it has its disadvantages. Getting the most from MPLS can require WAN Optimization which can be expensive, and because it secures point-to-point links between branch offices and data centers, it is not used to connect to the cloud. As a result, it can increase the costs of cloud access for organizations. It also takes a long time to deploy. Programming is needed at the hardware layer, and each node must be programmed individually, which can be a lengthy process and can also be expensive.
SD-WAN provides many benefits to businesses of all sizes. One of the major benefits is that there is no need to use proprietary hardware, and this helps organizations to avoid a hardware vendor lock-in, so they have more freedom to switch vendors in the future. They can move to open hardware models and SD-WAN can be managed and deployed via the cloud. SaaS applications and cloud services make up a large amount of enterprise WAN traffic now, and the cloud is increasingly important for businesses. SD-WAN offers increased performance of cloud applications and speeds up service agility. SN-WAN also reduces WAN connectivity costs, which is one of the largest benefits. It makes use of lower-cost WAN links like public internet broadband or optimizes the use of private lines. Businesses can also use commercial off-the-shelf hardware (COTS) to save money, and cloud-based management provides operating expense (OpEx) benefits. It also offers greater flexibility. A SD-WAN can be implemented as a network as a service (NaaS) and allows you to adapt to bandwidth needs that are constantly changing. Connecting the WAN to the cloud across optimized links also provides many benefits in terms of security, management, and performance.
SD-WAN provides many benefits for organizations of all sizes, as you can see above. However, that is not to say it is always the best option for businesses. Many larger organizations may still prefer to use MPLS, and they have their reasons for doing so. When it comes to your organization, spend some time analyzing the pros and cons of each solution to decide whether MPLS or SD-WAN is the right one for the future of your organization.
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