Do You Still Need MPLS with SD-WAN?

Organizations traditionally faced a trade-off when architecting their wide-area networks (WANs): either implement expensive multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) services or suffer through poor-quality voice calls and choppy video conferencing. Today, software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solutions offer an alternative — the ability to use low-cost Internet connections for WAN services. But despite the promised benefits of SD-WAN, confusion still reigns as to what SD-WAN can really deliver.

The findings of a global market study project a 200 percent year-over-year increase in the use of SD-WAN, as the once-niche technology enters the mainstream. The report shows that the cost of new equipment, the maturity of existing SD-WAN offerings, and concerns about Internet performance and security represent major inhibitors to SD-WAN adoption. The report also points to sustained momentum for MPLS despite SD-WAN’s rise.

Jim Duffy, Senior Networking Analyst at 451 Research, had this to say:

“The SD-WAN market is poised for major growth over the coming years, which will be accompanied by growing pains. IT practitioners are still ironing out the wrinkles when it comes to SD-WAN. The technology offers streamlined management and increased network agility, but its cost reduction impact is constrained by the need for increased security and the continued reliance on MPLS.”

One in five survey respondents said their companies are planning to deploy SD-WAN in the next 12 months, while one in 10 already have implemented a SD-WAN solution. An additional 30 percent of respondents reported that their companies are considering SD-WAN, pointing to future growth.

The rise of SD-WAN accompanies an overall increase in network spending. Half of respondents said they are increasing their networking budgets over the next 12 to 24 months. The most popular investment priorities, other than SD-WAN, are increasing WAN agility, improving site-to-site security and eliminating the backhaul of Internet traffic over the private WAN.

Despite the anticipated increase in SD-WAN investments, organizations continue to pay for MPLS. In fact, 62 percent of respondents who have already deployed SD-WAN said that their MPLS costs have either increased or remained unchanged.

At the same time, many of those who are planning to deploy SD-WAN rank MPLS elimination and cost savings as important. Respondents rank their top SD-WAN priorities as follows:

  • Reduce WAN deployment and reconfiguration times
  • Reduce reliance on MPLS and other private line services
  • Improve the performance of cloud- and web-based apps

The only real reason to maintain MPLS is to ensure Quality of Service (QoS) for voice, video conferencing and other interactive applications.  MPLS provides guaranteed QoS, whereas the Internet is inherently unreliable. However, most SD-WAN products simply aggregate multiple Internet links in an active-active configuration in an attempt to approximate the reliability of MPLS. They throw bandwidth at the problem, which doesn’t really solve it.

Only InSpeed Networks was built from the ground up to guarantee high-quality business communications without the need to overprovision bandwidth. InSpeed prioritizes interactive applications so you get a great user experience over any Internet connection.

It’s also very simple to use. When the InSpeed appliance is plugged in, it automatically creates a secure connection to the InSpeed cloud and starts prioritizing traffic. There’s no need for complex configurations or policy definitions.

With InSpeed’s patented technology, organizations can meet all of their SD-WAN objectives. Let us show you how InSpeed provides all the best features of SD-WAN in a cost-efficient, easy-to-manage solution that optimizes your interactive applications.