When contemplating Software-defined WAN vs. Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), it is essential to consider one of MPLS’s most important characteristics: reliability. MPLS generally offers superior quality of service (QoS) to avoid packet loss and keep business-critical traffic flowing. That’s because MPLS uses packet-forwarding technology and labels to make decisions about routing data. Real-time applications that may require this high reliability may include Voice of IP (VoIP), video conferencing, or remote desktop applications, for example. According to SDXCentral, MPLS works by virtually isolating packets and assigning a higher priority to specific network traffic. The protocol sets a predetermined path for traffic to eliminate disruptions to service based on particular parameters. Because of its high reliability, however, it’s also more costly than other high-performance bandwidth options. In addition, the MPLS network does not offer built-in data protection, and if incorrectly implemented, it can open the network to vulnerabilities. (Source: Best).
On the other hand, SD-WAN promises high reliability, although not to the bulletproof level of MPLS, without the high costs and management complexity of conventional MPLS links. That’s because SD-WAN changes the entire enterprise networking paradigm, making it software-based instead of hardware-based. A software-defined WAN network architecture gives businesses the ability to utilize less-expensive network links – such as cable, fiber, and 4G – instead of exclusively relying on private lines depending on the application type and priority level. Lower priority traffic can run over internet broadband like 4G LTE, and mission-critical traffic like cloud-based communication systems can run on MPLS. This ability to mix-n-match traffic to bandwidth saves money, but it also increases the network’s scalability and performance. Considering what’s right for your business depends on your company’s biggest goals. To get there, ask yourself these questions.
SD-WAN’s benefits are hard to deny, from lower costs to improvements in agility, flexibility, and deployment. It’s also true that private circuits such as MPLS will always be in demand for businesses with specific security and connectivity requirements. As companies continue to adopt cloud and mobile-first strategies and require more centralized network management, it will be interesting to watch the SD-WAN technologies’ adoption curve. When asking ‘SD-WAN vs. MPLS? Organizations should look at each’s pros and cons and prioritize ‘must-have capabilities’ vs. cost and performance.