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SD-WAN vs. MPLS vs. Public Internet 

SD-WAN vs. MPLS vs. Public Internet

The World is Flat‘, declared Thomas Friedman, the bestselling New York Times columnist. The flattening of the world, i.e. globalization, has profoundly affected multi-national businesses in many ways. An important one is how the network traffic between far-flung data centers and branch offices were negatively impacted. As the distance between end users and data centers increase, so do network latency and data packet loss rates. Enterprises need to select the right network architecture that will minimize these traffic degrading factors.

We examine below, the good and bad aspects of the legacy networks used by global businesses: the public internet and Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS).

Good and Bad of Public Internet

The public internet is available everywhere, easy to access, and inexpensive. But the issues with the internet are bad enough to make it unsuitable for a global enterprise. Some of these issues are:

  • Poor Latency: Since it is a public network, the internet carries heavy traffic which results in unacceptable network latency for business needs. Moreover, the latency varies with traffic, which leads to unstable performance characteristics.
  • Lack of Management: Business-critical applications require a network whose robustness is assured through end to end management and monitoring. These are not available for internet connections.

Good and Bad of MPLS

An MPLS network has good performance since network latency and data packet loss are both low. MPLS networks also come with service level agreements (SLA) backed guarantees of performance; the network provider has the responsibility to fix breakdowns quickly or be subject to penalties for failing to meet the SLA.

The main issues with MPLS, in addition to high costs, are:

  • High Costs: MPLS is much more expensive than the internet, even Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) networks.
  • Difficult to Setup and Configure: MPLS setup and configuration are manual, time-consuming and requires MPLS expertise. It is tedious to expand the network as the company’s needs grow. In short, MPLS is not very flexible or scalable.
  • Poor Cloud Performance: MPLS performs poorly for the branch office to cloud traffic since its design optimizes branch to data center traffic. So remote endpoints of the network experience poor performance when connecting to the cloud.

SD-WAN is the ‘Just Right’ Solution

Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) has emerged as the compromise solution that addresses the bad aspects of legacy networks without compromising the good ones.

SD-WAN design leverages the beneficial aspects of both the public internet and MPLS. It selects the optimal transport service by creating a virtual overlay over all the available transports. It is capable of handling cable, 4G/LTE, etc., in addition to internet and MPLS.  The application-aware routing and dynamic link assessment features of SD-WAN enable it to select the right connection for each application. SD-WAN technology offers serious competition to MPLS by providing comparable uptime and performance characteristics at a lower cost.

Cloud-Based SD-WAN is Even Better!

Moving SD-WAN into the cloud provides added benefits through leveraging other cloud-based features like security and support for mobile users. When cloud-based SD-WAN uses a global SLA-based backbone, it provides lower packet loss and more predictable latency than the internet. And, it comes with the cost benefits of using the cloud. The performance and reliability of cloud-based SD-WAN, along with the cost benefits, are compelling reasons for global enterprises for replacing expensive and rigid MPLS based networks. This will free up valuable IT resources from the tedious and time-consuming chores of maintaining MPLS based WAN. They can now focus on keeping the business infrastructure up to date with the latest and greatest in the rapidly evolving cloud-based technologies.

The Takeaway

For global enterprises that need a cost-effective, flexible network infrastructure with good performance, cloud-based SD-WAN is the right solution. Cato Networks offers a secure cloud-based SD-WAN solution that will remove the drawbacks of legacy networks that globalization exposed.

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