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

Why MPLS and SD-WAN isn’t an Either-Or Situation

Susana Schwartz
Communications Content Specialist

"MPLS WAN" vs "Internet WAN" – more specifically, an SD-WAN run entirely over-the-top (OTT) of only public Internet connections – is a common frame when evaluating options for network evolution. There's good reason for pitting these two against each other: MPLS links are low-bandwidth and expensive, while broadband and wireless deliver much greater bandwidth at a enormously lower per-Mbps prices. It's a stark contrast, with MPLS typically being literally a hundred times costlier than broadband Internet connectivity in terms of cost per Mbps.

Still, the demise of MPLS has been greatly exaggerated, despite the meteoric growth in SD-WAN solution deployments in the last couple years. Satisfaction with MPLS services has remained high, and MPLS revenues have not fallen off a cliff.  So why is MPLS often framed as something that's definitively on its way out?

What's really behind the MPLS doom and gloom

Even with the emergence of SD-WANs, MPLS remains on solid footing:

At the same time, the ubiquity and reliability of MPLS are not, by themselves, sufficient reasons to simply maintain the WAN status quo in the context of the ongoing transition to cloud-based services. For example, popular applications like Salesforce, Microsoft Office 365 and hosted VoIP solutions will pass through public networks en route to branches, nullifying much of the reliability and predictability advantages of MPLS.

More flexibility is needed, along with a roadmap for scaling the company WAN for increased bandwidth consumption and for evolving traffic patterns. Such shortcomings in MPLS are the roots of the often highly negative outlook for its prospects vis-a-vis SD-WAN.

But SD-WAN solutions can actually help resolve these very issues, by serving as enhancements rather than outright replacements for many MPLS-based WANs. There are multiple substantial benefits to augmenting existing MPLS investments with failsafe SD-WAN technology.

MPLS plus failsafe SD-WAN equals safe WAN evolution

For starters, implementing SD-WAN can bend the cost curve of your WAN. It gives you the option to supplement those thin MPLS links with less pricey alternatives including broadband, LTE and satellite.
With a Talari failsafe SD-WAN, you also get MPLS-class high availability and predictable Quality of Experience for all of your applications. That ensures acceptable performance without needing to rip and replace everything in your network architecture.

Finally, you align your WAN with the growing preference for cloud computing services. You can support centralized, cloud-based or more distributed security models while having bandwidth to run your most important apps and bandwidth-intensive or performance-sensitive next-generation applications.

For more information on MPLS and SD-WAN, check out our previous entry on the subject. Also be sure to request a demo to learn more about how our particular approach to SD-WAN can benefit your operations.