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MPLS has been a popular choice for enterprise networks for many years. Despite the relatively high costs, MPLS can deliver SLA-backed performance required for today’s applications. Although it has almost legendary status, every legend develops myths. Let’s take a look at five myths about MPLS:
Myth 1: MPLS is Necessary for Enterprises that Demand High Availability
networks are known for high uptime, but it’s not the only option when high availability is required. SD-WAN is a flexible solution that integrates low-cost Internet transports into a virtual WAN connection. Utilizing multiple links and additional features such as load balancing, and real-time monitoring of circuit health and performance, SD-WAN can achieve the required high availability today’s enterprises demand. Achieving high availability by having more than one circuit is great, but SD-WAN can also mix circuit types, such as fiber and 4G, to guarantee physical-layer redundancy.
Myth 2: The Entire Network Needs to be Built with MPLS
Businesses have embraced cloud applications for ease of access and lower costs. But these applications live outside the corporate network and the MPLS network doesn’t connect to the cloud. For companies who are heavily invested in their current MPLS infrastructure can take a hybrid approach and add SD-WAN to provide improved access to the cloud. Rohit Mehra, vice president of network infrastructure at IDC, notes, “SD-WAN will be particularly relevant for enterprises that have adopted or are adopting hybrid cloud and especially those that are availing themselves of SaaS application services.”
Another scenario for MPLS augmentation with SD-WAN is opening a new office or moving to a new location. Provisioning new MPLS circuits is notoriously slow and SD-WAN can be used in situations where agility is required. This also holds true if cost is an issue as SD-WAN can be less expensive to deploy.
Myth 3: MPLS is Secure
On it’s own, MPLS doesn’t employ security protocols. The security is based on the VLAN implementation; MPLS is technically a shared medium with customer traffic marked to be in its own VLAN. They are not vulnerable to the kinds of attacks seen on the Internet, since hackers can’t get to them, which is why they’re perceived as being secure. However, because traffic is sent in the clear, they are vulnerable to wiretapping. Many MPLS customers today add VPN encryption to secure the network. MPLS also does not prevent malware from propagating between MPLS-connected sites. Most often, MPLS configurations backhaul traffic to a datacenter and rely on the firewall at the datacenter to provide security. Optionally, some SD-WAN providers offer solutions with converged security using a single-pane-of-glass with event correlation of network and security traffic.
Myth 4: MPLS is the Only Networking Option for Enterprises in China
With the recent crackdown on VPN connections in China, many believe MPLS is now the only way to go. In reality, VPN is still an option but the connection must be officially registered with the Chinese government. MPLS is an alternative, but provisioning a circuit in China can take months, maybe even years to complete.
SD-WAN providers that are approved and registered with the Chinese government can provide connectivity to China without the cost and lengthy provisioning process of MPLS. SD-WAN connectivity also means the connection will not be blocked by “The Great Firewall of China”, which is notorious for creating packet loss and latency issues.
Myth 5: MPLS is the Only Option for Global Networks
SD-WAN technology has gone from an emerging technology to mainstream in 2018. According to research firm IDC, SD-WAN revenues will reach $2.3 billion in 2018 and more than $8 billion by 2021. But some see SD-WAN as no more than a regional solution because using public Internet connections internationally introduces unpredictable performance.
However, this is not the case for SD-WAN providers that have a global private backbone to ensure traffic is optimized and securely delivered around the globe. SD-WAN also holds an advantage over MPLS for global users accessing cloud resources. With only an MPLS backbone, users backhaul to the enterprise HQ then out to the cloud incurring long delays, or they access cloud resources over the public Internet incurring higher the cost of additional security infrastructure. With a global SD-WAN infrastructure, users from anywhere in the world can access cloud applications and other corporate resources from across the global backbone and expect high-performance connectivity.
The WAN, the Myth, the Legend
MPLS has earned and is deserving of its legendary reputation for reliability and performance. But when it comes to the nuts and bolts of running a business, it’s important to rely on the facts and not merely the myths of any solution. SD-WAN has become a viable option for enterprise networks and can complement an existing MPLS network to overcome obstacles such as cost, agility, availability, and cloud access. Learn more about WAN, MPLS, and SD-WAN technologies at Cato Networks blog.