SD-WAN vs MPLS: What You Need to Know Right Now (but you don’t want to scroll through a lot of crap on Reddit to learn)

 
SD-WAN is so hot right now. Seriously. The best market research is forecasting that 30% of businesses will be adopting a software-driven, hybrid network over the next five years. We have been a leader in network services since 2005, and even we have been caught off guard by the interest in SD-WAN. There’s a lot of information (and misinformation) floating around out there about the solutions on or being prepared for the market — and a lot of it is overly technical and of limited use for determining if (or when) to make a move.
Really — the biggest factor that should be grabbing your attention is price. For a long time, it was really only enterprise clients who could justify running MPLS to all of their locations. Dedicated, direct fiber is pretty luxurious. It offers tremendous uptime, unbeatable security, flexibility in shaping your data, low latency ideal for VoIP traffic, and it smells like cinnamon and gooseberries. It also costs a lot, which makes it a hard pill to swallow for smaller branch offices. 
 
SD-WAN offers a lot of the same advantages — for a lot less money. Basically, you are using devices to VPN up a solution that acts like a private network, but allows you to use copper, fiber, wireless: or whatever is available for your disparate locations. 
 

Excellent Quality of Service (SD-WAN QOS)

LAN/router configurations and queue designation can be a pain in the butt. You have to keep your router up to date, and there is configuration work that you have to attend to in order to get optimal performance. SD-WAN puts one device on site, and gives you total control over performance and policies from an elegant interface. Seriously — you should let us demo it for you; it’s pretty sweet. 
 
You connect the box, and basically you are done. Minimal upkeep, updates or headaches. You make changes when you need them, and nothing else gets tripped up.

Built for the Cloud

SD-WAN was invented with the rise of cloud applications firmly in mind. MPLS does a great job of moving data, but it simply does not match up with the flexibility and seamless pairing with cloud computing solutions. Also — beating the dead horse time — its cheaper. “Good enough or better for cloud stuff, and costs a lot less money” is not the best tagline for branding, but it sums it up the situation pretty well.
 

Bandwidth

Bandwidth is not free, and SD-WAN makes it really easy to add a second link or manage applications and bandwidth priorities. You can also make sure users that you dislike can no longer stream basketball games. Or you can easily upgrade so that everybody can watch. It’s easy, and the power trip is a lot of fun.
 

Expanded Access

The only thing you need for an SD-WAN site is an ethernet connection from somewhere. Anywhere. Put it on copper, fiber, your neighbor’s FiOS — whatever. Fast and easy.
 
The downside is that you won’t have the same SLA backing you up (so good luck if your office is getting COX or Comcast “service” — but if uptime is not mission critical, you can save a boatload without sacrificing (too much) performance or security. 
 
Creating a surplus of access options and allowing you to build a better, more reliable network.
 

Holy Crap — SD-WAN is Flexible 

If you want to switch MPLS providers, or update your tech, you are risking downtime and headaches. SD-WAN lets you connect multiple links, bring on or add links with no interruptions or complexity. It’s basically plug and play — but with a lot of on the fly ability to manage performance. 
 
We love chatting about this stuff and are more than happy to answer your questions. For more information on SD-WAN contact one of our engineers at info@yellowfiber.net
 
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