SD-WAN vs MPLS? What’s the difference?

SD-WAN vs MPLS? What’s the difference?

Unless you work in a highly technical field, you probably aren’t sure what the difference is between SD-WAN and MPLS. When comparing SD-WAN vs MPLS, what should you consider? We’re here to help. But first, an overview:

What is SD-WAN?

Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) solutions or SD-WAN is networking tech that makes wide-area networks smarter through direct internet connections over commodity broadband. The policies and access are all managed from a central point and rules can be rolled out across multiple sites simultaneously without needing to administer each device. This makes SD-WAN more scalable and easier to manage. It provides a unified secure connection across the whole organisation and is much cheaper than MLPS, especially for large installations.

According to Govtech, “You can take any number of different connection types and put [an SD-WAN] service overtop of those to dynamically manage traffic flow. That combination of connection types depends on your application environment and business objectives. Because it is based on software instead of hardware, you can easily implement, scale and manage [SD-WAN] in a fraction of the time and cost that it takes for MPLS.”



What is MPLS

Multiprotocol Label Switching or MPLS is a technology for forwarding network data traffic via labels not routing table lookups. It works sort of like switches and network routers do. It uses packet-forwarding labels to pick when and how to send data. Every packet gets a label to distinguish it from other packets and everything runs over a dedicated line. This is good for high-demand apps on a crowded network. According to Forcepoint, “MPLS has one notable advantage: its ability to deliver packets reliably and provide a high QoS (Quality of Service). This is a significant benefit for businesses that rely on real-time protocols such as VoIP, virtual desktops and video conferencing as these systems are able to operate without loss of signal or quality over an MPLS framework. MPLS also allows for the creation of CoS/QoS buckets that ensure traffic with a higher priority is delivered with a lower probability of packet loss.”

The only downside is high bandwidth usage. The cost per megabit is much higher than with SD-WAN. This can lead to high costs for organisations that need to scale quickly or have a lot of sites. If you’re worried you might be paying too much or your MPLS is not fit for purpose, let us help.

What is the difference between SD-WAN and MPLS?

SD-WAN can work alone or with an MPLS, but not the other way around. Even if you need the low-latency benefit of an MPLS, you can overlay an SD-WAN on top to help your existing tech run more efficiently. Because SD-WAN is aware of users, it can move traffic around for the best performance in real-time. It will also let you route critical traffic through dedicated systems while routine access travels over broadband. With an SD-WAN, you could reduce or in some cases eliminate your MPLS costs (depending on your business). And it will help you scale without spending significantly more.

To talk about the options that are right for your business and its needs; reach out to our helpful team.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *