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How MPLS and SD WAN Work Together

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The rise of SD-WAN, which has an estimated market value of $6 billion, is a direct result of the rise of cloud applications. Many businesses are adopting cloud applications for the lower costs and easier accessibility, but speed and bandwidth remain an issue.

According to a survey of 160 companies conducted by IDG Connect, a technology media company, landlines and traditional WAN architectures are “inadequate to maintain competitiveness as [businesses] move more of their applications to the Cloud.”

Enterprise companies with multiple locations have circumvented the unreliability of public networks by building MPLS networks between their branches. But even MPLS is proving insufficient to handle the WAN requirements of today. Cloud applications, sitting in data centers outside of a company’s network, must pass through public networks before they reach businesses. Thus, the value of an MPLS network is diminished when cloud applications are introduced to a company’s operations.

Does this mean MPLS has lost its use? Not at all.

Despite its simplicity and speed, SD-WAN cannot compete with the security and reliability of MPLS networks. Additionally, many companies have already invested hundreds of thousands into developing their MPLS network infrastructure. But more than anything, MPLS remains relevant because it compliments, rather than interferes, with SD-WAN technology. Indeed, IDG Connect has found that nearly 40% of businesses are moving toward hybrid models, where SD WAN broadband is used in conjunction with their MPLS connections.

In terms of achieving the best possible connectivity, this hybrid model makes technological sense. SD-WAN allows companies to use broadband connections to augment their MPLS networks in many ways:

• You can switch carriers, or mix and match depending on real-time bandwidth availability
• Simplify connectivity and securely deploy new locations quickly
• Reduce infrastructure costs

While MPLS remains incredibly powerful, it suffers from high costs and complexity. MPLS lines are scarcer than broadband lines, and take time to provision. With the introduction of SD-WAN, some of these issues can be alleviated. But MPLS will still be necessary for multi-location enterprise connectivity.

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