How to Get More from MPLS WANs


Servers and other IT equipment were once replaced like clockwork on 3-year cycles as their warranties expired and newer models became available. But more recently, some organizations have opted to hold on to aging hardware longer, in some cases virtualizing it for use in hyperconverged infrastructures supporting remote and branch offices.

This approach can be a low-risk/high-reward method for extracting more value from an existing IT investment. Similarly, organizations with significant MPLS assets across the WANs have looked for ways to get positive returns on these link, even as the rise of software-defined WANs (SD-WANs) has made commodity Internet an increasingly appealing alternative.

Dead or Alive? The Current State of MPLS Architectures

Depending on who you believe, MPLS is either on the verge of extinction or primed for many more years of use. It’s easy to see why the first belief is popular, but the second one is currently closer to reality.
The “MPLS is dying” argument hinges on the major advancements available in SD-WAN solutions, which offer comparable Quality of Service (QoS), easier routing changes, centralized management, more efficient use of bandwidth and less expensive service plans. With an SD-WAN, an expensive MPLS architecture can be swapped out for commodity broadband without sacrificing QoS. Additionally, multiple devices can be consolidated and simplified with a unified SD-WAN fabric.

At the same time, even some carriers offering MPLS have reported increased sales as SD-WAN has shown incredible staying power. Still, this trend makes sense considering that SD-WAN is a perfect platform for connecting and optimizing different transport types, including MPLS links. However, MPLS was never designed to accommodate modern cloud and SaaS architectures that are placing digital transformation demands on legacy WAN topologies.

It’s Not the End of the Road for MPLS Architectures Yet

A 2017 Nemertes Research survey revealed the ongoing utility of MPLS even as SD-WAN gains traction. It found that 21 percent of respondents had implemented SD-WAN, while 60 percent of that group planned no changes to their MPLS deployments in the wake of new SD-WAN layering.

SD-WAN offers several benefits to existing MPLS connections, including:

  • Better cost controls: The strategic use of inexpensive broadband alongside traditional MPLS will reduce any growth in WAN-related expenses.
  • Superior reliability and redundancy: Like other WAN links, MPLS ones are enhanced by the granular performance tracking, bandwidth reservation and real-time path selection features of SD-WAN.
  • A better on-ramp to the cloud: SD-WAN’s compatibility with any mode of transport enables organizations to address the specific shortcomings of MPLS (e.g., it’s a poor fit for SaaS) with alternatives like Internet, without having to ditch MPLS entirely.

An SD-WAN solution is sort of like a backward compatible game console – a real-world example is the Microsoft Xbox One, which can play Xbox 360 games dating back to 2005 in addition to its own titles – i.e., a platform that accommodates cutting-edge technologies while still being able to support older ones its users are already heavily invested in.

A Talari Networks SD-WAN provides the best reliability over any underlying transport. Set up a demo today to see it in action or click the banner below to learn more about its connectivity benefits.

Categories: Business Agility

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