SD-WAN vs. MPLS
- What is SD-WAN?
Software-defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) devices sit in company locations and form an encrypted overlay between themselves across any underlying transport service including MPLS, LTE, and broadband Internet services.
- What are the benefits of SD-WAN?
Reduced Bandwidth Costs: MPLS bandwidth is expensive. On a “dollar per bit” basis, MPLS is significantly higher than public Internet bandwidth. Exactly how much more expensive will depend on a number of variables, not the least of which is location. However, the costs of MPLS aren’t just a result of significantly higher bandwidth charges. Provisioning an MPLS link often takes weeks or months, while a comparable SD-WAN deployment can often be completed in days. In business, time is money, and removing the WAN as a bottleneck can be a huge competitive advantage.
Reliable Network Across the Unreliable Internet: The ability to connect locations with multiple data services running in active/active configurations. Sub-second network failover allows sessions to move to new transports in the event of downtime without disrupting the application.
Secure Communications: Encrypted connectivity secures traffic in transit across any transport.
Bandwidth on Demand: The capability to immediately scale bandwidth up or down, so you can ensure that critical applications receive the bandwidth they need when they need it.
Immediate Site Activation: Bring up a new office in minutes, instead of weeks and months that it takes with MPLS. SD-WAN nodes configure themselves and can use 4G/LTE for instant deployment.
- What are the key trends driving SD-WAN adoption?
Enterprises built their networks using legacy carrier services, such a managed MPLS service. These services are expensive, require weeks to months to activate sits, and require waiting for the service provider to make even the simplest of changes.
SD-WAN offers an escape from that bringing agility and cost efficiencies to IT networking. The SD-WAN connects locations with several Internet connections, aggregating them together with an encrypted overlay. Policies, application-aware routing, and dynamic link assessment in the overlay allow for the optimum use of the underlying Internet connections.
Ultimately, SD-WAN delivers the right performance and uptime characteristics by taking advantage of the inexpensive public Internet with the security and availability needed by the enterprise.
- What are the limitations of SD-WAN?
Lack of a global backbone: SD-WAN appliances sit atop the underlying network infrastructure. This means the need for a performant and reliable network backbone is left unaddressed by SD-WAN appliances alone.
Lack of advanced security features: SD-WAN appliances help address many modern networking use cases, but don’t help with security requirements. As a result, enterprises often need to manage a patchwork of security and networking appliances from different vendors (Like CASBs) to meet their needs. This in turn leads to increased network cost and complexity as each appliance must be sourced, provisioned, and managed by in-house IT or an MSP.
No support for the mobile workforce: By design, SD-WAN appliances are built for site-to-site connectivity. Securely connecting mobile users is left unaddressed by SD-WAN appliances.