SMOAD Networks

April 5, 2023

SD-WAN vs MPLS: Which Is Right for Your Business?

A strong network connection is mandatory for a business to run successfully across multiple locations. Online Business meetings, overseas video conferencing, VPN-enabled remote working – all such business activities need an unhindered network connection that promises both flexibility and security. Most corporate businesses switched their network architecture during the pandemic from Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) to Software-defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) owing to its advanced security and maintenance features. But to choose the right connectivity for your business, you must understand the difference between the two networking types.

Defining MPLS and SD-WAN
MPLS is a networking technology that uses a pre-defined, private path to route traffic.

SD-WAN connects LAN using software and routes traffic using the best available means of transport (broadband, LTE, 4G, 5G, etc.) (i.e., Public Internet)

Difference between MPLS and SD-WAN
MPLS networks offer a fixed and reliable bandwidth, but with the increasing dependence on a cloud application, latency and slow connectivity are huge problems.

Since SD-WAN connections choose the path based on the quantity of traffic, latency is not an issue. This way, SD-WAN is a better network option for businesses that rely more on cloud applications to keep their production running.

Installing MPLS and having the network architecture set up for businesses with multiple locations can be costly. Many hardware devices must be set up, so you cannot compromise the pricing when installing MPLS.

The opposite is true for SD-WAN. Since physical location and hardware instalment are not a problem with SD-WAN, the installation cost is comparatively low. Whenever a new location for business is set up, the IT team can add new SD-WAN connections. In the past two years, companies that chose to shift their network to SD-WAN saw a reduction in their cost by around 50%.

MPLS is not scalable. It can never quickly adapt w.r.t business needs and excessive Capex. If you want to dynamically scale up or downsize, MPLS networks, as mentioned earlier, pose a considerable challenge since they are fixed private circuits.

On the other hand, SD-WAN deployments are always fully scalable. This makes it highly cost-effective; you can quickly expand or downsize as needed. Hence, the initial Capex for SD-WAN deployment is far less than MPLS.

MPLS vendors don’t include firewalls, VPNs or other security options in their MPLS solutions. So, it becomes the responsibility of the IT team to work on setting up a firewall system and secure the entire business network from cyber-attacks.

SD-WAN protects the data packets by connecting them to a secure tunnel with strong encryption. If businesses require additional security, they can employ the IT team to set up necessary firewall protection, URL filtering, etc., along with the already available encrypted solution.

Benefits of Using SD-WAN
Now that you know the basic functionality differences between MPLS and SD-WAN, it is time that you take a look at a few advantages of using SD-WAN:

1) Specialised Hardware is Not Required
You don’t have to invest time or money in configuring routers to transmit data packets or traffic. SD-WAN runs using any available networking hardware.

2) Integration with Cloud is easier
MPLS requires the establishment of direct connectivity to the desired cloud provider. With SD-WAN, you can connect with any cloud infrastructure without investing in direct route establishment.

3) Bandwidth Limit is Not a Problem with SD-WAN
MPLS connections can carry only a limited amount of data based on the configured bandwidth. But with SD-WAN, even a large amount of traffic can be transmitted. SD-WAN can combine numerous connections and increase capacity based on the quantity of data packets being transmitted.

In short, from direct-to-cloud connectivity and simplified maintenance to in-built encryption, SD-WAN offers numerous advantages compared to MPLS. As more businesses are moving to the cloud and hybrid work structure, it has become necessary for enterprises to opt for flexible connectivity options.

In addition to all these advantages, SD-WAN implementation and operation are more straightforward than MPLS. IT teams can work remotely, and manual troubleshooting would not be required. For example, a connectivity issue with MPLS would require the IT team to check the hardware connections and rectify them. But with SD-WAN, they can simply reroute the traffic.

Each company has its requirement, and it can be challenging to shift network architecture suddenly. Specific industries, like the defence, might rely on MPLS owing to security reasons or reliability. But for sectors moving to the remote work environment, SD-WAN connections would be best. Seek help from SMOAD SD-WAN solution providers to understand its functionality and benefits.

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