SD-WAN vs. MPLS: What Every Company Should Know for VoIP

How to / Guide

August 13, 2019

With the emergence of SD-WAN as a networking technology for voice, many IT leaders are wondering whether they should continue using legacy MPLS circuits or take the leap with SD-WAN. While both technologies offer important benefits, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, which is why it’s critical for decision-makers to understand the pros and cons of both technologies. Read our article below to get updated on MPLS and SD-WAN:

Differences Between SD-WAN and MPLS

Both MPLS and SD-WAN are technologies that are deployed over the wide area network (WAN). However, MPLS is a routing technique (not a service) that is designed to shape traffic flows for networks by sorting and prioritizing packets. When a packet enters the network, it will be assigned to a specific forwarding equivalence class (FEC), which allows each packet to be separated from other traffic. SD-WAN, on the other hand, is a service that provides software-defined networking (SDN) applications to WAN connections and determines the optimal way to route traffic by using a centralised control function.

Pros of MPLS

One advantage of MPLS is that it provides high Quality of Service (QoS) by effectively managing packet loss and keeping critical traffic flowing, which is possible because of the technology’s ability to isolate packets and assign priority to certain types of network traffic. If your company uses many crucial real-time applications, or has other reasons for needing guaranteed network performance, this reliable packet delivery is an important factor to consider.

Cons of MPLS

One of the biggest downsides of MPLS is its cost. MPLS tends to be more expensive than internet services, which can be a problem for companies that need high levels of bandwidth. Another downside is that MPLS requires longer setup times and cannot easily add or mix and match network links like SD-WAN. Because of this, SD-WAN may be a more viable option for global companies that need to quickly increase networking capabilities.

Pros of SD-WAN

One of the biggest pros of SD-WAN is that, because it uses the internet and there are no bandwidth penalties, companies can connect offices around the world hassle-free. It is also more cost-effective than other options, which is important for organizations who want to connect multiple offices without having to worry about accumulating expenses. Additionally, SD-WAN has multiple security capabilities, including end-to-end encryption across the entire network and authentication for all devices and endpoints. Deployments for SD-WAN tend to also be faster than MPLS, and bandwidth can be flexibly increased or decreased as required - which is a major plus for large corporations that need to scale their networks.

Cons of SD-WAN

Unlike MPLS, SD-WAN is not able to guarantee low levels of packet loss, latency, or jitter. This can be a downside for companies that require guaranteed performance across a portfolio of real-time applications. Additionally, because SD-WAN is a new technology, most companies will have to create detailed plans for migrating from their current systems, which is why it’s important to find a provider that is experienced in large-scale migrations. Alternatively, a hybrid solution between SD-WAN and MPLS may be an option for customers who aren’t ready for a full transition.

SD-WAN vs. MPLS: What’s Right for Your Organization?

When it comes to the “SD-WAN vs. MPLS” argument, there is no one right answer. Ultimately, companies must assess their voice communication needs and determine what factors are most important to their organization. If cost, security, and scalability are at the top of that list, SD-WAN will likely offer the most benefits, which means that finding an experienced voice provider is essential. If you’re ready for a seamless SD-WAN transition, make sure to check out Pure IP’s secure and effortless Pure IP ONE solution, which includes cutting-edge encryption technology, intelligent analytics and reporting tools, and 24/7 dedicated support.

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