SD-WAN vs MPLS – what’s the difference? - Enablis

SD-WAN vs MPLS – what’s the difference?

Posted on: September 3, 2018 | 4 minutes read

SD-WAN vs MPLS – what’s the difference?

Multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) technology gained popularity almost two decades ago, addressing poor network performance by delivering data via fixed, highly efficient routes. It serves its purpose well, ensuring that business critical information (such as time-sensitive emails or important video conferences) are not subjected to unexpected delays.

While the advantages of MPLS – scalability, improved performance, reduced congestion – are great, it is also costly and inflexible. An MPLS service must be purchased from and configured by a telco carrier and is far more expensive than running data over the Internet.

What about SD-WAN?

Based on software-defined networking (SDN) technology, the application of SD-WAN utilises cloud technology to manage WAN infrastructure. SD-WAN helps organisations quickly realise efficiency gains and cost reduction by intelligently routing traffic over multiple service providers based on connection quality, application type and bandwidth requirements. Read more about the advantages of SD-WAN on our blog.

With SD-WAN implementations gaining momentum, many organisations are questioning the benefits of MPLS, when SD-WAN can efficiently route traffic from point to point.

Pros and cons: MPLS vs SD-WAN


MPLS Pros:

  • Guaranteed performance for real-time traffic
  • Best end-user experience

SD-WAN Pros:

  • Centralised administration
  • Cost effective
  • Flexible and agile
  • Carrier agnostic

MPLS Cons:

  • Predetermined routes need to be configured by telco
  • Inflexible (can’t make ‘point-and-click’ changes)
  • Difficult to source single global provider
  • Doesn’t support direct access to the cloud

SD-WAN Cons:

  • Relies on public Internet

So which fits best?

While some experts claim that SD-WAN will result in the slow death of MPLS, the truth is that each technology has a different role to play, and finding the balance is the key. MPLS guarantees performance for fixed, end-to-end traffic – making it the best choice for time-sensitive traffic that requires guaranteed and timely delivery.

Strategically, organisations should offload all other traffic to the public Internet, leveraging the flexible and secure technology offered by SD-WAN. Although running over the Internet, SD-WAN offers optimal user experience while lowering connectivity costs by automatically switching out the use of expensive VPNs and engaging lower priced options instead. In addition, a centralised dashboard provides IT managers with complete visibility and control over traffic routing, SaaS performance at every location, and business and security policy management.

Our perspective on selecting a technology

Selecting MPLS or SD-WAN technology can be tricky. Some providers focus on selling the newest technology, believing – and selling – the hype that it will fix all their customers’ problems.

Here at Enablis, we don’t sell technology, we focus on business outcomes. We take the time to get to know your unique situation in order to gain a thorough understanding of what you do, what you want to do, and what you need to get you there. Through collaborative discussions, we’ll propose the solution that best fits your desired outcome.

Whether MPLS or SD-WAN is the right solution for you, Enablis has solid, trusting relationships with Australia’s key telcos. We’ll assess your requirements, align your needs to each telco’s capabilities, negotiate contracts and manage the telco relationship on your behalf. When you work with Enablis, you only need to work with one partner.

Want to know more about SD-WAN? Join us at our next SD-WAN event

Join Enablis as we host our next SD-WAN event with Cisco Meraki, market leaders in cloud controlled WiFi, routing, and security. With the impending copper switch-off, hear from our experts about how NBN can provide the high-speed internet platform required to successfully implement SD-WAN.

Sydney Event
Join us for canapes and drinks

When: Wednesday 3 October, 2018
Time: 5:30pm-7:30pm
Where: Aria Private Dining Room, 1 Macquarie St, Sydney NSW 2000

Melbourne Event
Join us for lunch

When: Wednesday 10 October, 2018
Time: 12:30pm-2:30pm
Where: Vue de Monde, Rialto Towers, 525 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Register your interest below and we’ll get back to you shortly.

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