SD-WAN or MPLS: Which One is Most Useful for IT?

Guest Blogger

Guest Blog by Steve Braverman, Co-Founder of Coeo Solutions

SD-WAN or MPLS: Which One is Most Useful for IT?

When the idea of switching to SD-WAN is brought up, your hesitation is understandable and not uncommon. You’re probably thinking back to the countless hours and money your business put into installing MPLS and wondering if SD-WAN will be more useful to your IT staff or not. The good news is, both SD-WAN and MPLS offer unique advantages, making one system potentially more beneficial, depending on your business and what you want in a network. Learn more about both SD-WAN and MPLS in this in-depth comparison to have a better idea of which is the best solution for your staff.

SD-WAN vs. MPLS: Cost

For smaller companies or companies whose main objective is to cut costs, SD-WAN is the ideal choice. MPLS provides individual connections and it also needs to send Internet traffic to a data centre where it will be processed and redistributed. This process incurs extra costs for businesses.

SD-WAN distributes traffic through the cloud and provides connectivity for users no matter where they are located. By using a variety of network connections, such as 4G, 5G, LTE, and MPLS, costs are lower than they are for a single-carrier MPLS network.

SD-WAN vs. MPLS: Performance & Flexibility

With MPLS, your network will have a fixed bandwidth, meaning your company will have to calculate your required bandwidth needed to run efficiently. SD-WAN, on the other hand, offers a flexible bandwidth, due to its use of multiple connections. Therefore, SD-WAN is great for a business that has fast or unpredictable growth due to its scalability. A company that has steady growth or is stagnant may not have a need for this flexibility and MPLS can suffice.

MPLS is also inflexible due to the fact that you must use the same MPLS service provider at all sites. While MPLS providers benefit from this, MPLS’s inflexibility makes it a hassle for your company when you are unhappy with your service and are considering switching MPLS providers. SD-WAN is ISP agnostic, so your business can add or remove ISP’s at any site easily.

The location of your company is also a large factor. MPLS can offer less than optimal performance in areas where a network is not available. SD-WAN networks are reliable and offer high-performance no matter where you are located, making it a great choice for businesses who want more flexibility in connecting to remote networks. With SD-WAN, you can remotely collaborate with other team members with little to no service disruptions.

If your business runs many real-time apps over the WAN, such as phone calls, video conferencing, or remote desktops, MPLS may be a better choice. Since SD-WAN runs near real-time, it will still need MPLS for mission-critical applications and data. On the other hand, if the majority of the applications your company uses are hosted in the cloud, SD-WAN is beneficial.

SD-WAN vs. MPLS: Security

MPLS is seen as the most secure network solution by businesses, as it exchanges packets between the source and the data centre using a managed, secure link. It is important to note, however, that in order for a network to be deemed entirely safe, firewalls and malware inspection are required in addition to the secure MPLS connection as well.

SD-WAN incorporates encryption across an entire network from end-to-end and offers secure traffic in both the cloud and the Internet. While SD-WAN network connections are considered secure by businesses and experts, with SD-WAN’s broadband routes on the public Internet, there is a slightly greater risk of your network being exposed to malware and hackers than with an MPLS network.

Does SD-WAN or MPLS Fit Better With Your Business and Its Goals?

Both SD-WAN and MPLS networks hold their unique advantages; neither option is a bad choice. However, depending on your business goals, one network may work more efficiently for you than the other. For businesses with fast or unpredictable growth that are focused on lower costs, increased flexibility, SD-WAN is an ideal option. With companies where tight security is of utmost importance, MPLS may be their network of choice, but SD-WAN can also provide a similar measure of security. In the end, the “better” network depends on what your business is looking for.


Guest Blog by Steve Braverman, Co-Founder of Coeo Solutions
Coeo Solutions is a leading cloud communications provider headquartered in Illinois. Thanks to his long-time history in telecom, Steve leads the Coeo Solutions team in providing scalable, flexible and customized solutions for every client.


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