SD-WAN "Versus" MPLS? or SD-WAN "Plus" MPLS?
How much will the wide area network connections business continue to change as cloud computing and the internet now drives the direction of the WAN business? The analysis will differ when looking at enterprise internal networking requirements, compared to enterprise customer-facing requirements.
Customer-facing use cases arguably represent the overwhelming bulk of transport requirements, if only because so much traffic is content delivery, especially video content delivery.
One source of uncertainty now is use of software defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) by business customers.
Some would note that SD-WANs were conceived, in part, as a replacement for Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) networks, largely in the cost area, but also because SD-WANs are considered easier to deploy and configure.
But some recent surveys of information technology professionals suggest SD-WAN and MPLS will coexist. At least in part, that could be because IT professionals believe SD-WANs can be overlaid on MPLS , as well as reduce reliance on additional MPLS connections. Some would argue that one SD-WAN advantage is that it allows bonding of internet access and MPLS and other WAN transport networks.
In a survey sponsored by Cato Networks, some 41 percent of respondents said they relied on the internet for data networking requirements. That is important. SD-WAN is a potential replacement for MPLS only if an entity actually uses MPLS.
So the issue is how important predictability is a primary requirement. Where the lowest latency and highest predictability is necessary, some will continue to rely on MPLS. That does not necessarily mean abandoning MPLS, though.
Over time, that could change, as often is the case when new core network protocols are introduced. It is easy to make the argument for use of SD-WAN to support branch or remote locations. It is seen as a lower cost way to use “edge” appliances to manage organization data links.
But that decision might be separate from the decision to make core network transport choices.