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Convinced That SD-WAN Will Be the End of MPLS? Think Again!

Recent talks in the tech space have ignited an interesting debate about the future of Multiprotocol Label-Switching (MPLS) technology. With the advent of SD-WAN becoming an increasingly affordable and scalable option, many have long been convinced that MPLS was on its way out. However, many organisations still use MPLS and it’s looking like hybrid solutions are likely to keep the technology around longer than expected.

Understanding Why SD-WAN Won’t Mean the End of MPLS

How a hybrid model will allow both technologies to coexist

For twenty years, Multiprotocol Label-Switching (MPLS) has been an entirely scalable, efficient, and reliable means of creating secure network connections between different worksites and workers. MPLS deploys point-to-point metro Ethernet technology to connect multiple customers, using one core set of network protocols and devices.

For organisations who use MPLS, the technology maintains highly efficient and secure data routes and eliminates the need for routers. MPLS technology efficiently labels data packets to ensure streamlined and accurate data transmission. However, with twenty years passed since the original advent of MPLS, many feel that Software-Defined Wide-Area Network (SD-WAN) technology will become the new connection technology of choice for businesses of all kinds.

What is SD-WAN?

Software-Defined Wide-Area Network (SD-WAN) technology operates by delivering end-to-end network visibility and feedback that significantly improves data transmission efficiency. SD-WAN also ensures a streamlined avenue between company devices and wide-area networks that are strategic, agile, scalable, and customisable.

Is the tech speak giving you a headache yet? Let’s try and break down the difference a little better. Traditional wide-area networks (WANs) run entirely on private MPLS technology that is routed by a centralised core network. SD-WANs on the other hand, allow users to access and use multiple web-based networks in a more strategic, dynamic, and customised way.

To be clear, SD-WAN technology doesn’t simply eliminate the need for a central networking hub. However, with SD-WAN, the networking hub is merely a collective set of centralised SD-WAN sites. Many people celebrate SD-WAN because of its capacity to offer increased flexibility, performance, and mobility when transmitting information from the data center to the field. It’s also heralded for providing scalability and cost-efficiency benefits in comparison to MPLS.

However, networking trends show that rather than phasing MPLS out, SD-WAN is being used in a complimentary way instead. MPLS users are recognising the benefit of using SD-WAN solutions as “overlay” technology. MPLS serves as the “underlay” technology – namely, the hub that sits at the base of the network infrastructure and provides basic connectivity.

While SD-WAN overlay technology can provide a better experience, tech experts are urging users to remember that MPLS is still a critical part of the equation and can do some things that SD-WAN just can’t. That’s why the biggest recommendation from today’s business IT experts is to deploy an “underlay-overlay” approach or hybrid model like just described.

Customisation is Everything: The Network Connection Solution Best Suited for Your Business

As mentioned, the ultimate solution is a hybrid model that strategically positions both SD-WAN and MPLS technology to work seamlessly together. However, the right solution for each business depends on many factors including the type of work and the nature of data transmission between different sites.

For companies that want a no-nonsense solution for seamless central network control, data traffic management, and network automation, an SD-WAN solution is likely the best option. The technology efficiently organises data into a virtual overlay, meaning organisations have more control over designing, deploying, and modifying their network from a centralised set of SD-WAN sites.

However, for organisations that rely on running mission-critical, real-time apps over a wide-area network (including anything from VoIP communication, video conferencing, and remote desktop applications) SD-WAN on its own will likely be insufficient. This is because SD-WAN relies on public internet in order to connect multiple sites and its prone to losing packets of data. Not to mention, SD-WAN increases company network-area significantly, which can have negative functionality and security effects.

Understanding the Hybrid Model: Need A Hand? We Can Help!

So, when it comes down to it, most IT professionals will recommend that your organisation tries to deploy a hybrid model that combines the benefits of MPLS and SD-WAN technology simultaneously. You get the secure control and predictability that MPLS offers, combined with the low-cost scalability of broadband internet, creating the ultimate network connectivity solution for enterprises of all shapes and sizes.

However, whether you’re an established organisation with a network already in place or you’re an up and coming business looking to establish a network, you may be lost on how exactly to implement and optimise a hybrid network model. Don’t worry you’re not alone. We hear from businesses all the time wondering what SD-WAN is all about and whether or not their network connectivity could be more strategic. The best advice we can give you is to reach out for professional IT consultation.

In fact, if your business or organisation is trying to determine whether SD-WAN or MPLS is the right call for your network, don’t hesitate to reach out to the team of network specialists from Steadfast Solutions. We have the experience and expertise necessary to help you make an informed decision, that will support optimal network functionality.

Tired of trying to decipher tricky network terms like SD-WAN and MPLS? Don’t let the tech-speak leave you feeling bogged down. Reach out to our team of experts for constructive consultation at any time at 1300 739 335 or via email at We’ll speak to you in a language you can understand and will get network connectivity at peak capacity in no time at all.