SD-WAN vs. MPLS: Learn the Basics
Before comparing SD-WAN vs. MPLS, it is a good idea to review the basics. First off, SD-WAN stands for software-defined wide area networks. This method reduces reliance on physical routers by breaking down and organizing data on the digital level. This works through a two-tiered system using an intelligent gateway and management structure.
More specifically, TechTarget says, “SD-WAN is an alternative approach to designing and deploying enterprise WANs. It aims to replace traditional branch routers with appliances that use virtualization, application-level policies and network overlays to make several consumer-grade Internet links behave like a dedicated circuit.”
As an initial step, SD-WAN connects to your internet and acts as a gateway to filter and organize the incoming data based on the applications and routing control set up. This works on the software level, so you need no additional equipment.
The next level manages the system as it works. You can do this through a provided graphical user interface, and it helps make small changes to the system as needed.
What is MPLS? The acronym MPLS stands for multi-protocol label switching. The basic structure of this technology takes the different connection points of the Internet and your office and bridges them together into one single connection.
This single connection becomes more extensive and more complex as bandwidth grows. It is a streamlined system, though, and provides a stable and straightforward service.
Now that you know the basic definitions, it is time to compare SD-WAN vs. MPLS side-by-side.
SD-WAN vs. MPLS: How Do They Differ?
In recent years organizations adopted SD-WAN over MPLS for its flexibility, increased resiliency and manageability. A lower priority consideration was cost, but it also was a driving force since many firms are looking to reduce their budgets as much as possible.
Compared to MPLS connections, SD-WAN internet connections are significantly less expensive. A company’s savings will vary according to how many MPLS sites it transitions to the public internet and how many vendors it manages. A network evaluation performed by an experienced provider is the only way to determine actual savings.
Although MPLS has disadvantages, such as expense and scalability, many companies don’t need to replace the technology with SD-WAN altogether. IDC, for example, recommends enhancing the existing MPLS network with SD-WAN.
MPLS could use SD-WAN’s capabilities to create a hybrid infrastructure complementary to MPLS. It may also be more suitable on its own for some connections, while SD-WAN may work better for others.
In conclusion, instead of contrasting SD-WAN vs. MPLS, it is helpful to learn from the get-go that some companies can save money while maximizing their networks by consolidating vendors and transitioning to SD-WAN.
Both systems work well independently and could provide the basics you need, depending on your current company status. The breakdown between the two is to determine which one does a better job in each situation. Their differences can be drastic in certain conditions, which you can read in detail next.
What Matters Most?
To evaluate cost-effectiveness, there are many factors to consider. Even though the overall costs can be high, if a product is essential and expansive, it still fits the definition of a cost-effective solution.
This applies when deciding to deploy SD-WAN vs. MPLS. In smaller setups and basic applications, MPLS is an acceptable solution because of its simple structure. However, traffic backhauling to the central data center grows as the system expands.
Instead, SD-WAN uses private traffic exchanges and control points to provide massive amounts of multi-access points. By spreading out all the information, it can accelerate the data flow.
SD-WAN’s benefits are all software-based, making it possible to scale to larger systems and setups without increasing hardware costs, making it a more cost-effective overall solution.
2. Protection Rates
MPLS systems have a single connection, making it seem more accessible to protect with security measures. The problem comes in the amount of traffic the single connection controls, which is almost impossible to sift through and organize as it travels.
SD-WAN, on the other hand, has many different, separate data points, but they are all in manageable sizes and organized to receive security checks without issue.
Neither system has native security by its design, but SD-WAN takes on a security overlap easier than the MPLS systems.
3. Overall Performance
MPLS provides a single, stable structure to process your internet connection. Again, MPLS may seem like a better fit due to this standard function.
The problem stems from the way data networks have evolved. In today’s networks, there is a considerable amount of traffic, but the type of traffic can be unpredictable as well. During periods of big spikes and shifts, MPLS systems can end up being far too saturated.
When companies purchase MPLS systems designed for the busiest times, they often have unused bandwidth for most of their operations because of the system’s design.
By contrast, SD-WAN organizes each area and item into smaller, more manageable chunks as the system grows. This means it can take time to monitor and adjust to each change and shift depending on the network’s needs.
The final test between SD-WAN vs. MPLS comes in at this variable. The MPLS system lacks one significant aspect with little competition, echoing the overall performance statement: flexibility.
To function correctly, all traffic needs bandwidth, and MPLS systems can’t adapt their capacity to the amount of traffic running through them. This is made even more difficult by latency-sensitive applications.
Latency requirements for video and voice, which are commonplace applications for modern businesses, need to be monitored and adjusted permanently. To provide this monitoring, you will need to prioritize these applications. As a result further network responsibilities appear, such as traffic shaping and load balancing.
SD-WAN does this job naturally while breaking down applications to give each smaller section better attention and service. Adjustments come easily and in multiple ways, from parallel connections and load balancing to opening new connections to transfer to.
Businesses That Make SD-WAN Excel
With all this information you may have a clear-cut winner on SD-WAN vs. MPLS. However, there are a few additional questions. Which one fits your business best? Do you need the added stability and single performance MPLS provides, or do you need more?
For most businesses, SD-WAN provides a more scalable system. Growth should be a natural process in your company, and with the rapid increase in data SD-WAN could give you a more stable platform. With top managed SD-WAN services as well, you can overlay an intricate security measure and use SD-WAN’s natural ease of monitoring.
The SD-WAN vs. MPLS debate has now a pretty easy winner. The SD-WAN provides power, security, and flexibility for today’s fast-paced business environment.
The digital world has significantly changed the way organizations operate, so enhancing your network to support different work styles is vital. You should partner with a Managed SD-WAN provider who can evaluate your existing network and business requirements before creating a solution to allow you to scale with your business as your needs evolve.
With BCM One, you will receive expert guidance on implementing a variety of managed technology solutions customized specifically for your business requirements. Whether you are looking to streamline your communications network or optimize your system, BCM One is here to help. Contact us today.