Communications Reimagined
Industry insights for 5G evolution and transforming digital experience.

MPLS is Dead, Long Live MPLS and Failsafe SD-WAN

Susana Schwartz
Communications Content Specialist

Natural selection is a proven process. Darwin is still correct to note that, in the long run, newer and better business technologies will easily replace older ones. The annual release of faster iPhones and the ongoing improvement of IEEE Wi-Fi standards offer compelling "technology evolution" evidence. Iteration works and proves that there's no point in clinging to the past when it's prologue.

Evolution is not always smooth in technology transitions. For example, MPLS services date back to the mid-1990s, before many businesses heard the muted mating calls of dial-up public internet access. While the transition from Frame Relay to MPLS in the early 2000s was relatively quick and uneventful, MPLS ~15 years later remains in wide use, with a longevity and resilience to change that would make even 2001's Microsoft Windows XP (popular well into the early 2010s) blush. The MPLS services market is still expected to exceed $20 billion in 2020. Some service providers outside North America and Western Europe even continue to see growth in MPLS subscriptions. Others are feeling Darwin's evolutionary grip already, largely because of enterprise's move to the cloud and the introduction of newer, better, less costly approaches like software-defined WANs (SD-WANs).

There are plenty of reasons for the ongoing utilization of MPLS, despite its disadvantages in terms of cost, capabilities and versatility vis-a-vis the combination of SD-WAN technology and less expensive transport options such as broadband. But clearly the most important reason why MPLS will not be going away altogether any time soon is that MPLS delivers a failsafe WAN.

What is a Failsafe WAN?

Failsafe WANs deliver both high availability (simple "uptime") and predictable performance that meets the key requirements of both TCP and real-time applications like Unified Communications. While expensive and in some ways "overengineered", MPLS still delivers traffic more reliably and predictably than the unaided public internet and offer built-in QoS mechanisms key for real-time or other mission-critical traffic. Prior to failsafe SD-WAN technology, MPLS was the only widely available WAN service available for delivering failsafe WANs.

The evolutionary wave of SD-WANs might seem in the abstract like an existential threat to MPLS. SD-WANs offer enterprises numerous benefits at a much lower ongoing cost. SD-WANs work with multiple forms of network transport – not just MPLS, but also broadband, LTE and satellite links. On the other hand, the technology from many SD-WAN vendors cannot deliver on failsafe. In fact, only a tiny handful of vendors have developed failsafe SD-WAN technology (and no one does failsafe SD-WANs as well as Talari).  Failsafe SD-WANs, however, do deliver on the core value propositions of MPLS, while providing more versatility and a long-term way to cost-effectively grow the enterprise WAN, an also delivering additional advantages like superior connections to SaaS and cloud services.

MPLS as a Cog in the Failsafe SD-WAN Machine

With the right carrier-agnostic, failsafe SD-WAN technology, enterprises can have their cake and eat it, too – and do so in an evolutionary fashion. MPLS paired with SD-WAN in a hybrid WAN evolutionary combination plays a pivotal part in this new and more streamlined setup for many enterprises. A failsafe SD-WAN offers MPLS-class high availability coupled with Quality of Experience, regardless of whether it's extended over a hybrid combination of MPLS plus an internet WAN fabric, or a set of exclusively Internet connections. This leaves it up to the enterprise to determine whether and when to decommission expensive MPLS links as they incorporate more Internet connections into their WAN, knowing that they will not have to sacrifice reliability or application predictability in the process – as they would if they chose an SD-WAN solution lacking critical failsafe capabilities.

With failsafe SD-WAN technology from Talari, it's possible to aggregate bandwidth across disparate links (e.g., MPLS and Internet) for even a single traffic flow.  Moreover, the centralized orchestration and analytics available through the management console enables unprecedented visibility into WAN conditions. These features make SD-WAN a genus breakthrough upgrade even if you prefer to protect your MPLS investment.  Darwin is again correct. Newer WAN innovations do improve management, performance and scalability as your application mix evolves.

Talari Networks offers a new genus of failsafe SD-WAN compatible with all forms of modern network transport. Learn more by requesting a demo today.


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