SD-WAN vs MPLS
Traditional networking technology, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), has seen competition from Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) solutions to meet today's high demands and expanding needs for networked business-critical systems. But just how does one evaluate SD-WAN vs MPLS? Here we discuss how these networking technologies are different and why a network team might choose SD-WAN adoption over MPLS.
What is MPLS?
Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) is data forwarding technology for network traffic that directs data through a path via labels instead of requiring complex lookups in a routing table at every stop.
MPLS is often implemented on high-performance, distributed networks. In the debate against which is better, MPLS or SD-WAN, 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.
So, how does MPLS work and why is it so reliable? MPLS works in a similar way to network routers and switches and uses packet-forwarding labels that determine how and when data will be forwarded. Each packet is assigned a label which separates it from other traffic on the WAN. When there are many users on a shared network using a large number of high-demand apps, this traffic predictability can be a big plus.
MPLS does come with a major caveat; bandwidth cost. This is becoming an increasing issue for organizations that eat bandwidth like there is no tomorrow, and who must pay the price to keep their systems running efficiently. Not only is the cost higher than SD-WAN, it takes considerably more effort to add new links. For organizations with branch offices, remote sites, and a need to quickly grow distributed networking capabilities, this is enough to consider SD-WAN adoption in favor of MPLS.
What is SD-WAN?
SD-WAN is a networking technology that uses software to make wide area networks more intelligent and flexible by connecting sites directly to the internet over commodity broadband links. Configurations and access policies are centrally managed and easily applied across all sites, removing the need to manual administer each WAN device individually.
The benefits of SD-WAN speak for themselves. The most notable benefits include scalability, global availability, visibility, advanced controls and high performance. It is also extremely quick to put into place and can be increased and reduced as and when required. SD-WAN's biggest benefit for many organizations is its cost factor, especially when compared to MLPS. Generally, the more SD-WAN you use the cheaper it gets and it can be upgraded easily without making any changes to the network or infrastructure.
Security is another huge selling-point of SD-WAN; perfect for the business that needs to ensure it chooses a network system that integrates performance, security, orchestration and policy in one solution. SD-WAN unifies secure connectivity while also offering end-to-end encryption both across the WAN and over the internet.
Which is Right For Your Business?
When it comes to agility, flexibility, security, scalability and cost, SD-WAN is a worthy winner and fast becoming the preferred choice for many businesses.
Forcepoint's Secure Enterprise SD-WAN addresses the challenges faced by today's modern business by cutting networking costs without compromising performance, agility or security. Our product combines the latest SD-WAN technology with Forcepoint's top-rated Next Gen Firewall to allow you to security scale your network with ease.