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What's the difference between SD-WAN & MPLS? 

Key Takeaways: MPLS vs. SD-WAN, Infographic: Compare SD-WAN, MPLS & Hybrid SD-WAN


MPLS is a proven network technology that has been around for decades. However, it's expensive, especially to achieve redundancies or when managing fluctuating taxes. A newer way to deploy WAN services is via a software-defined network (SD-WAN).

The biggest difference between SD-WAN and MPLS is that MPLS is a dedicated circuit and SD-WAN is virtual overlay using software instead of physical hardware.

Download our infographic to see how MPLS, SD-WAN and Hybrid SD-WAN compare.

See the difference when it comes to network topology, security, redundancy, scalability, deployment, cost, connectivity and routing.

Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS)

MPLS stands for multi-protocol label switching and provides a secure, all private transport with Quality of Service (QoS) and defined rules for traffic prioritization. In the simplest sense, an MPLS network allows you to privately transport data through your internet service provider’s network. MPLS extends your company’s local area network (or LAN) without using the public internet, and as a result provides your business with its own private connection.

Ideal for businesses with three or more offices, MPLS networking efficiently delivers applications across multiple locations. MPLS utilizes short labels instead of IP addresses to route data quickly. In addition, Quality of Service is used to prioritize different types of data across your network, so you can rank your business' most critical data.

Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN)

SD-WAN is a software-defined (SD) approach to managing your wide area network (WAN). With SD-WAN, you can optimize your user experience and simplify your network operations in the cloud. SD-WAN provides greater flexibility by using multiple connection types, such as broadband, LTE or MPLS depending on what's available at your location. SD-WAN also allows you to use the bandwidth from all of your circuits at the same time to ensure the highest level of performance.

SD-WAN uses intelligent routing and allows you to control data packets via traffic shaping policies to ensure critical applications run smoothly. If a circuit drops, it is configured to dynamically route applications across other circuits, prioritizing the most important traffic. This solution is quick to deploy and easily scales. Identity-based firewall features automatically apply security and traffic shaping rules to ensure optimal performance.

In short, SD-WAN simplifies your corporate network because:

  • It’s highly secure.
  • It protects you against service outages.
  • It easily scales so you bring new offices online fast.
  • It gives you control and visibility into your network traffic.

Hybrid SD-WAN

SD-WAN can replace or augment MPLS to reduce costs. Depending on your business needs, you can replace or augment legacy MPLS connectivity to help reduce costs and avoid the expensive FUSC taxes that come with MPLS. This is achieved by a Hybrid SD-WAN model.

A Hybrid SD-WAN model uses both MPLS and SD-WAN to connect your network. Prioritize your mission critical traffic using a secure, MPLS network with Quality of Service. Then, you can route your internet destined traffic via a less expensive SD-WAN broadband circuit. This model provides redundancy and is more efficient for moving traffic to the cloud.

Infographic: Download Now

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