What are the advantages of SD-WAN over MPLS for you and your business?

The Covid-19 pandemic demonstrated just how critical it is for a business to have a secure, reliable network. The rapid shift to remote working accelerated the adoption of cloud-based platforms and highlighted the importance of reliable, high-performance business networks to connect cloud based technologies to a multitude of sites.

This shift to cloud services isn’t going away anytime soon and regardless of industry, a network solution that provides security, performance and reliability, at a reasonable price, is a necessity.

MPLS networks have been around for close to 20 years. They offer businesses a way to connect remote branch offices that require access to data or applications that reside in the organisation’s data centre or company headquarters.

An MPLS connection is much more expensive than a standard internet connection. In addition, MPLS was designed for businesses that have multiple remote sites that are geographically dispersed across the country or the world where the majority of traffic is fed back to enterprise data centres.

Today, businesses have re-directed much of their traffic so it’s going to and from cloud providers instead, making MPLS suboptimal.

So why move to SD-WAN?

SD-WAN solutions have a number of advantages, making them a good choice for implementing a corporate WAN:

Decentralisation – SD-WAN hardware can be deployed at each site, moving networking and (potentially) security functions to the network side.

Diversity – SD-WAN create a single network infrastructure that includes many connection types. This can even include an MPLS, but can also be broadband, or 4G/5G services. This allows businesses to rely less on expensive, private MPLS connections and use cheaper, public connections for less sensitive data. A more diverse network of connectivity is then a further benefit. 

Reliability – A Multiplexing method is used to combine multiple physical circuits into a logical network. This way, multiple devices can use the same connection without impeding access for other devices. This also provides a failsafe in case one physical circuit fails. In that case, the devices on the failed circuit simply transfer to another within the same network.

Scalability – Expanding the number of endpoints or services in a traditional WAN can require substantial hardware investments. In contrast, SD-WAN allows a business to add sites, applications and services simply and cost-effectively whilst also effectively handling multiple cloud environments.

Costs – This is the big one, how do things look on the bottom line?
In an MPLS setup, remote sites connect to the central data centre through a hub and spoke WAN model that relies on individual MPLS connections. As a result, all data, workflows, and transactions, including access to cloud-based services or the internet, required traffic to be backhauled to the data centre for processing and redistribution. Compared to an SD-WAN solution, this is extremely cost-inefficient.

SD-WAN reduces costs by providing optimised, multi-point connectivity using distributed, diverse connectivity carrying private data traffic exchange and control points.

To summarise, in all cases, the benefits of an SD-WAN solution outweigh MPLS alone. This is because today’s traffic, comprised of advanced web applications and complex workflows, require a more flexible and dynamic connectivity environment than traditionally static MPLS connections are able to provide.

With an emphasis on a Secure SD-WAN, not only does this provide a layer of management and flexibility of connectivity options for remote offices that MPLS does not provide, it also provides  deeply integrated security that reduces management overhead. Further extending visibility and control from the central IT management console or SOC solution out to the very edges of the distributed WAN.

Having said this, MPLS services will always be in demand, particularly for the many businesses that have specific connectivity and security requirements. When deciding between the two, businesses need to weigh up the pros and cons and ask themselves which needs are paramount in their environment. However, many organisations successfully run MPLS alongside SD-WAN, leveraging the benefits of both technologies.

Do you feel like this solution would be right for you and your business telecommunications? Get in touch with myself today for a free, no obligation quote, or even a review of the production on 01403 272910, or on john.sutherland@global4.co.uk

John Sutherland
Senior Account Manager