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From Legacy to Innovation: SD-WAN vs MPLS

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In an era where business success is intricately woven into the fabric of connectivity, the significance of reliable and efficient networking cannot be overstated. As organisations navigate the currents of digital transformation, a strong network foundation emerges as the bedrock of operational excellence.

Within this blog, we’ll explore the comparison between the two most common networking types in today’s business world: SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network) and MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching).

What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN, or Software-Defined Wide Area Network, represents a revolutionary shift in networking paradigms. It leverages software-based controls to intelligently manage and optimise data traffic across diverse locations. By prioritising critical applications and dynamically adjusting network paths, SD-WAN ensures optimal performance, even in complex environments. This transformative approach promotes enhanced efficiency, cost savings, and an agile response to evolving business needs.

What is MPLS?

MPLS, or Multiprotocol Label Switching, has historically been a stalwart in networking. It's known for its deterministic routing, making it ideal for delivering predictable performance over wide area networks. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are often deployed to enable data segregation and remote access to MPLS environments. However, as this modern era ushers in unprecedented challenges, traditional VPNs have revealed their limitations in providing robust protection against advanced threats. Today, legacy relics like VPNs and MPLS environments fail to meet the needs of a cloud-and-mobile-first corporate world.

Comparing SD-WAN & MPLS

When weighing SD-WAN against MPLS, several critical factors come into play. Each solution has distinct attributes that cater to specific requirements:

  • Network Architecture & Requirements: SD-WAN's software-driven flexibility allows it to seamlessly integrate with various network types and accommodate hybrid environments. MPLS, on the other hand, suits well-defined network structures with predictable traffic patterns.
  • Geographic Distribution of Branches: SD-WAN excels in connecting distributed branches, providing efficient access to cloud resources. MPLS suits organisations with concentrated, well-established locations.
  • Bandwidth Demands & Application Sensitivity: SD-WAN intelligently allocates bandwidth based on application priority, ensuring optimal user experience. MPLS offers consistent performance but may struggle to accommodate bandwidth-hungry applications.
  • Security & Compliance Needs: SD-WAN integrates advanced security measures, such as encryption and firewalling, mitigating modern cyber threats. While MPLS offers inherent privacy, it often requires additional security overlays and complexity.

SD-WAN gains a distinct advantage in various aspects. It achieves cost-effectiveness without compromising performance by leveraging economical internet links while upholding performance standards comparable to MPLS. The agility and scalability inherent to SD-WAN's virtualisation enable swift adjustments to evolving demands, a feature not mirrored by MPLS's static infrastructure. Furthermore, SD-WAN reinforces its superiority through integrated security measures, effectively countering the ever-evolving landscape of cyber risks. Additionally, SD-WAN excels in intelligent application optimisation, ensuring consistent user experience across diverse locations.

Aligning Solutions with Business Needs

Choosing between SD-WAN and MPLS hinges on your network architecture and business goals. SD-WAN's adaptability and versatility make it an excellent choice for companies with diverse connectivity needs. Consider real-world examples, like how the Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) managed to modernise and stabilise its global network with SD-WAN whilst also unlocking considerable cost-savings in the process.

Pioneering the Future: Trends & Innovations

As networking trends evolve, SD-WAN remains at the forefront. Its inherent flexibility positions it to embrace technological advancements seamlessly. SD-WAN adapts to the rise of IoT, edge computing, and cloud-centric models, ensuring your network remains future-ready. Read on here for more information on how SD-WAN is directly empowering business transformation and innovation.


Selecting the right networking solution is pivotal to your business's success. SD-WAN's transformative capabilities, agility, and robust security make it an enticing choice for modern businesses seeking to navigate the digital age. Assess your unique requirements, evaluate the benefits, and stride confidently into the future of networking innovation with SD-WAN by your side. Ready to start your business case for breaking free from old-style connectivity with SD-WAN? Speak to us to find out more.