Today, the majority of Enterprise WAN’s are based on MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) connections. However, with the growing number of applications being delivered from the cloud combined with the need to enable direct-to-cloud communications, MPLS is no longer sufficiently performant or cost-effective. The need to increase streamline WAN infrastructure, combined with the interest for cheaper and simpler WAN, is driving SD-WAN adoption.

The SD-WAN market is set to at least double in the next 3 years with 70% of companies interviewed planning to adopt SD-WAN in some form in the next 18 months, IDC reports. SD-WAN over DIA (Direct Internet Access) can fully replace existing MPLS, or a hybrid of MPLS and DIA can be leveraged. The leading motives cited driving the adoption for enterprises are price, security, visibility and reduced complexity. Couple these advantages with the other benefits SD-WAN can bring to your business and it becomes clear why MPLS networks are in decline year on year.

Here are the top 4 reasons why SD-WAN will replace legacy MPLS connections:

SD-WAN improves application and network performance

Before the advent of the cloud, organisations needed only to be concerned with the performance of the applications hosted on their private networks and centralised data centres. Now that applications are moving to the cloud and are relying on the Internet to carry them to offices, MPLS can no longer deliver, which is turning businesses away.

The Internet is a much better scaled network than it was a decade or even 5 years ago. Business-class high-speed Internet bandwidth with speeds up to and beyond 1Gbps are available and can be used for enterprise networks. Leveraging broadband Internet as an alternative to MPLS ensures network-wide predictable performance regardless of where the applications are hosted.

SD-WAN ensures high availability with minimum downtime. When running over pure Internet bandwidth, the best way to maintain 99.99% availability is to utilise 2 links from 2 different providers in case of link failure. Additionally, SD-WAN enables you to measure jitter, latency and packet loss, routeing traffic to the best path available with the least amount of loss. If loss is still present on both links, solutions such as Silver Peak’s Path Conditioning will address the problem, ensuring exceptional performance, reliability and private-line-like performance over the public Internet.

MPLS has a complex infrastructure

It’s the management and orchestration of SD-WAN which gives it its competitive edge and differentiates it from other solutions. Legacy MPLS has a multitude of single-function devices and appliances connecting via different WAN links. This complex infrastructure proved to be prohibitively expensive and complex, both to implement and maintain.

In contrast, broadband internet links are much quicker to provision and deploy. The plug-n-play concept and point-and-click provisioning of SD-WAN are its biggest unique selling points. Additionally, everything is GUI based which means that large and complex WAN’s can be managed more simply the ever before.

Savings are substantial

One of the biggest drivers of SD-WAN adoption, which accounts for 35% of all deployments, is the cost savings that can be derived. MPLS circuits are not only expensive to install and scale, but the cost of MPLS per Mbps can be up to 100 times the cost of Internet bandwidth. MPLS is priced anywhere between £30 and £60 per megabit per month compared to as little as £2 for broadband Internet. Companies surveyed in a recent IDC survey reported an estimate of at least 20% cost savings with SD-WAN.

Security is improved

Another motive accounting for a big part of SD-WAN deployments is the network security it provides. Historically MPLS has been considered a secure form of network connectivity as it uses private links and does not require encryption. However, the data travelling through the node is exposed and if anyone gains access to the wire outside the building, the data can be tapped. Similarly, recent events have called MPLS security into question and revealed that governments can easily tap and monitor these networks.

On the other hand, SD-WAN predominantly uses DIA and since the Internet is a public and shared medium it represents an opportunity for attackers. However, security across the Internet can be ensured by utilising encryption and firewall level packet inspection used for security, reporting, and traffic prioritisation.

Conclusion

Substantial cost savings, improved performance, full network visibility, simplified management and consistent security are the top drivers for enterprises considering SD-WAN. Aside from these advantages there are other smaller benefits that SD-WAN has over MPLS including wider geographic availability, unmatched QoS as well as the fact that it is not datacentre-dependent. Due to the myriad of benefits it provides to businesses, SD-WAN has started to replace legacy MPLS networks and the trend is set to scale dramatically over the next few years.

We hope this article has been of interest. If your company is considering ripping out and replacing your current MPLS network architecture, contact Solar Communications to find out more about how SD-WAN can support your needs.