Is MPLS out and SD-WAN in? Not so fast!

Today’s businesses don’t look like they used to: we’ve traded cubicles and corporate offices for remote working, branch offices, and cloud computing. This shift has put the enterprise network at the center of it all. Employees, customers, and partners rely on it daily to stay connected and access the applications they need to do their jobs and stay competitive. The added pressure on the conventional Wide Area Network (WAN) is pushing many network admins and business leaders to re-evaluate their reliance on multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) connections as a primary WAN circuit. Organizations, instead, are looking for network connectivity that’s more cost-effective and that’s more flexible, agile, and custom-built for the cloud era. They’re also looking for added capacity to keep employees connected to bandwidth-hungry cloud-based SaaS applications, from Salesforce to ERP systems. 

Want more flexibility and agility? 

Software-defined network architectures such as SD-WAN are making cloud-ready, flexible enterprise networks a reality. SD-WAN is a virtual WAN architecture that is transport agnostic and gives companies the ability to leverage any combination of transport services –  such as T1, cable, 4G LTE, 5G, etc. – in addition to MPLS. An SD-WAN solution uses a centralized cloud-based control function to securely and intelligently direct traffic across the WAN in the most efficient way possible. SD-WAN not only promises greater operational agility but also business resiliency delivering high performance and a quality user experience connecting users to business-critical apps hosted in the cloud.

Why complementary connectivity wins

So, does that mean that MPLS is out and SD-WAN is in? Probably not. The reality is that most businesses still need both network protocols and solutions to run an effective and secure network. MPLS is still the go-to- choice for ‘defining separate lanes of traffic’ across the same network, which makes it possible to guarantee high service levels and meet pre-set requirements for latency, jitter, packet loss, and downtime. When organizations need to connect mission-critical applications or large data centers together, they need a powerful connection with reliable service levels: MPLS. SD-WAN, on the flip side, can help an existing infrastructure run more efficiently by using software to route mission-critical apps along with private circuits while sending lower-priority traffic and apps – chat or email – over a public broadband connection. Using SD-WAN also allows companies to utilize multiple, high-bandwidth, and less expensive internet connections, all at once. The result? Faster internet speeds at a much lower cost! In many cases, hybrid WAN connectivity with MPLS and SD-WAN gives companies the best option for a robust and resilient network that’s ready to perform. Here are a few points making the case for complementary connectivity

  1. Using existing bandwidth, rather than paying for what you don’t need – The good news is a hybrid approach isn’t throwing money away. A mix of MPLS coupled with SD-WAN gives companies the ability to take advantage of the investments they’ve made into developing their MPLS network infrastructure – relying on the security and reliability of MPLS when needed and public broadband for lower-priority apps and traffic. 
  2. Keeping up with the pace of business – The truth is that MPLS wasn’t designed for the speed required for today’s always-on businesses. Requesting change orders or new installs can take weeks or months, especially if a company is relying on multiple service providers across the country or globe (and most are!). Using SD-WAN with a managed provider delivers added flexibility to make service changes much more quickly.  Growing or adding branches? Network admins can switch carriers, or mix and match connectivity options depending on real-time bandwidth availability and needs.
  3. Providing network redundancy – Global MPLS networks are patched together using a range of service providers. The problem is this can lead to serviceability issues and it complicates the job of providing adequate network redundancy. Using SD-WAN along with smart telecom partners make it possible to use the internet to supplement MPLS and set policies that spell out how traffic is to be handled when primary connections are unavailable.

Start with planning, procurement, and smart management 

With increasing pressure on the enterprise WAN today it’s no wonder more businesses are moving toward hybrid connectivity models, where SD-WAN is used in conjunction with MPLS connections. The result is a network that’s truly cloud-ready and one that’s built for the digital enterprise. If you want help with planning, procurement, and management of your network and telecom infrastructure, talk to Telapprise today! We’ve helped hundreds of SMBs plan, monitor, manage and secure their network and in doing so achieve superior application performance and greater overall network efficiency at a lower price point. Don’t go all or nothing! Get help!

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