SD-WAN vs. MPLS: The major differences that change everything

Thought Leadership on Innovative Tech presented by Transbeam.

How is SD-WAN different from MPLS?

That’s the number-one question we get from potential clients and current customers. Beyond just the cost-effectiveness, they want to know how it’s going to work for them, and whether or not it’s worth severing ties with their old network. Information tends to be bogged down in technical terms, focusing on the technology behind the service, rather than how it sets itself apart.

Here are just some of the ways that SD-WAN is changing the face of cloud networking and making MPLS feel like an abandoned theme park.

Better quality of service

If you’ve been dealing with MPLS for any amount of time, you know that you have two potential components that can cause problems—LAN/router configurations and queue designation with the MPLS carrier. These require constant equipment updates (for the router) and you have to work to keep the two factors married to each other with each update. Otherwise, it won’t be operating at its optimal level.

With SD-WAN you have your one device per location and you’re in charge of any changing priorities that happen on your network. It’s a simple plug and play, no updates, upgrades, or costly network designs.

The cloud is the network

It’s been the tagline from the start: SD-WAN was built to optimize the usage of cloud-based applications that organizations are transitioning to. Engineers specifically built this product so that it worked seamlessly with applications like Office 365, Salesforce, and other cloud services.

Meanwhile, the 15-year old MPLS systems have trouble fitting in with this changing environment. Clients have to work twice as hard to get answers to their questions about implementing new applications, making for a slow transition to new technology, if they can find a way to transition at all.

Bandwidth options

With MPLS, upgrading your bandwidth can be costly. So, companies find themselves constantly having to police what’s happening on their network and rate-limit applications.

With SD-WAN, you can upgrade easily by adding another link or switching out for a different box. With absolutely no changes to the infrastructure or network needed.

Access options

MPLS is limited to your carrier’s local circuits (fiber, T1s, EoC). You don’t have the option to access anything outside of that like Google Fiber or Fixed Wireless.

But that changes with SD-WAN. You can plug in any Ethernet based connection and you’re ready to go. In fact, you can use more than one with a single box. Creating a surplus of access options and allowing you to build a better, more reliable network.

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