SD-WAN has evolved from its early stages into an all-in-one solution that businesses are using to elevate their networks. SD-WAN 2.0 is a next-generation technology, both for enterprises looking to grow and for partners who want to provide it to their customers. With networking tools that prepare businesses for growth, SD-WAN 2.0 is the ultimate replacement for MPLS.
Wide area networks (WANs) have evolved over time. And the standard WAN doesn’t make that much sense anymore against SD-WAN, primarily because the WAN requires so much more legwork than SD-WAN. A WAN requires leased lines, as well as privately owned routers. SD-WAN, being software-based, only needs a standard internet connection.
While the traditional WAN may no longer be so useful in the face of SD-WAN, SD-WAN would not exist without the WAN’s earlier efforts. With SD-WAN, users get access to higher capacity, better reliability, and a better overall experience. This is often for significantly less expense and effort than a WAN would have required.
A growing number of businesses are looking for an MPLS replacement. But why? The increasing complexity of the network over the last decade has IT directors looking for a better way to ensure connectivity. Cloud technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) had not yet come on the scene 10 years ago, leaving many of today’s enterprises under contract for network technology that doesn’t fit their current needs. These businesses are in search of an MPLS replacement for a number of reasons.
Increased network traffic puts pressure on MPLS networks that used to be a go-to for reliability and reduced latency and jitter.
Because MPLS providers often piece together global coverage through partnerships with other service providers, MPLS is costly.
Setting up a new MPLS line can take weeks, making it a bottleneck for launching a new branch and unrealistic for retail enterprises that use pop-up shops.
MPLS is only as good as the provider’s network and how well that network is managed.
SD-WAN equips enterprises to improve uptime and maximize their bandwidth savings. SD-WAN’s significance as an MPLS replacement stems from its origin. Certain technologies were built on one another and converged at the right time to make SD-WAN possible:
When fiber optic prices dropped and copper lines were replaced, the capacity for data increased and became more affordable. Data transmissions became fast and cost-effective, rather than slow and expensive. Enterprises were suddenly no longer struggling with the cost of a large file download.
The availability of cheap broadband for easy data transmission opened up the opportunity for internet protocol (IP) voice calls. Enterprises were no longer forced to rely on exclusive telecom lines but could instead leverage the internet for voice calls. Over-the-top (OTT) providers suddenly had an opportunity to offer an alternative to landlines, and while these providers were initially underestimated by telecom providers, they are still in wide use today.
While the developments in data and voice made the cloud platform possible, neither could match the disruptive nature of this technology. Not only are cloud solutions more cost-effective for everyone from small businesses to large enterprises, but the cloud offers agility that helps companies shift priorities, tools, features, and even business plans without cumbersome hardware and software changes.
The advance of IP voice calls introduced new possibilities for collaboration, giving rise to unified communications. Cloud platforms offered advanced forms of reporting on everything from visitors’ behavior on a website to the length of a phone call to customer service. This flow of data quickly alerted enterprises to the hefty cost of exponentially multiplying the traffic coming over MPLS lines.
SD-WAN not only offers alternatives to MPLS to save on bandwidth costs, but it also offers network optimization, increased control and visibility, greater flexibility, and better security control. Many enterprises, however, make the mistake of using it as a sort of Band-Aid on their networking solutions.
SD-WAN is often used only to augment MPLS, with the idea that the enterprise can route mission-critical data transmissions to MPLS pathways while directing less-important traffic to public internet lines. The problem with this method is that it can further complicate the network. The additional hardware and management complexity can result in SD-WAN and MPLS combinations taking up even more time and resources in appropriate configuring and troubleshooting.
For today’s enterprises, the network and its level of performance are driving factors for remaining competitive in the marketplace. Investing in the network is a necessity for survival in an era when a system that’s offline even briefly can immediately send customers to a competitor’s site. The best approach is for enterprises to look at SD-WAN as a complete MPLS replacement.
It’s easy to see the benefits of an MPLS replacement. However, not all businesses are able to actually make the switch. Here are some key points to help you identify if your business is ready for an MPLS alternative.
Not every business has the same technology profile. Some have more resources available to them than others, and if there isn’t access to an MPLS replacement such as SD-WAN, then there’s little point in considering alternatives that don’t exist.
It’s important to consider what alternatives are in play. Not all SD-WAN solutions are created equal. Look for disparities such as the speed of deployment, differences in pricing, and differences in security capability to determine if alternatives are worth pursuing.
There are many great reasons for bringing in an MPLS replacement such as SD-WAN, but it’s not always the best option for everyone. Most SD-WAN systems are specifically designed to address issues related to branch offices, which means they’re not always reliable when it comes to cloud-based operations.
Another potential problem with SD-WAN and similar MPLS alternatives is that they often don’t address security threats launched from the internet itself. Businesses need to be prepared to address these types of security issues internally.
If your enterprise is prepared to make the shift away from MPLS, the next step is to ensure you choose the right alternative. Most enterprises need an MPLS replacement that will allow the cost-effective, free flow of data transmission, such as SD-WAN. There are a few characteristics you should look for when choosing an alternative to MPLS, and most can be found in SD-WAN.
SD-WAN introduces a virtual overlay that is separate from the physical network, allowing administrators the ability to determine which types of data transmissions are worthy of the cost of MPLS. Other transmissions can be routed to different, less costly pathways, including the public internet.
Another benefit of SD-WAN is that new branch locations can be quickly configured and brought online. Because the administrators access network configuration from one central location, there’s no need to travel to the branch for setup, maintenance, or troubleshooting.
In addition to being able to optimize the types of traffic that utilize MPLS, there are cost benefits to SD-WAN. Paying a monthly subscription fee means enterprises only pay for the number of users they need, and those costs can be classified as operating expenses. There’s also little to no investment in hardware when implementing SD-WAN.
It’s no longer possible for enterprises to put a secure firewall around the network and watch for possible intruders. The option to segment out network traffic can be an effective way to isolate a potential threat and prevent it from infiltrating the entire network. Network administrators also have a higher level of visibility that makes it possible to identify threats before they impact the network.
It’s clear that SD-WAN directly addresses some of the shortcomings of sticking with MPLS. Beyond the basic benefits we’ve described, enterprises cite a number of reasons for making the shift to SD-WAN. These initiatives in particular benefit from moving to SD-WAN as an MPLS replacement:
SD-WAN’s features branch into some unexpected areas, making it a solid alternative to MPLS. Outside of the connectivity benefits, SD-WAN offers much more to the enterprise.
SD-WAN features can include a depth of protective systems that help keep businesses safe online. With real-time monitoring of cloud-based attacks as well as honeypot systems designed to lure in potential attackers to gather information, SD-WAN features can include active protection as well as preventative measures.
If you’re in an industry with a regulatory burden such as PCI or HIPAA, SD-WAN systems not only acknowledge these compliance requirements but can also help you meet them in terms of security and data transfer.
Improved Application Use
Some SD-WAN offerings include traffic shaping. This allows the system to prioritize certain kinds of output and allow for that to go out first, reducing delay and improving performance.
SD-WAN maintenance is simple. Businesses work from a single dashboard for all locations involved in a network. You’re able to watch the whole network from one display and have access to several diagnostic features, including WAN load testing, jitter tracking, latency tracking, power supply monitoring, and more.
Proactive Issue Prevention
SD-WAN helps prevent many common problems from even showing up. Content filtering for websites allows SD-WAN to tackle problems before they appear by blocking compromised, virus-riddled, or simply malicious websites from activating. Dual WAN failover and 4G wireless backup can help keep the system alive even when the main network shuts down.
Complying with HIPAA regulations while meeting patient expectations for immediate access to medical records is a balancing act for healthcare organizations, with the added complication of the constant threat of security breach. Although reliable, MPLS becomes more costly as healthcare introduces more IoT devices and the data load increases the traffic passing through the network.
SD-WAN is increasingly the preferred solution for optimizing the use of MPLS and other pathways. There are several benefits to SD-WAN use in the healthcare industry.
WAN alternatives: By providing access to a variety of network connectivity options, SD-WAN helps ensure that data transmissions are delivered without incident. Manageable failover and faster provisioning on SD-WAN make it a more reliable network infrastructure.
Cloud accessibility: Healthcare organizations are increasing utilization of cloud solutions, and SD-WAN provides the best on-ramp for software as a service (SaaS) as well as any other type of public or private cloud application.
Better security: Healthcare organizations must prioritize security, and SD-WAN makes it much more manageable. By adding a virtual layer over the physical network, administrators gain a central access point for managing, troubleshooting, and configuring the network, as well as a way to identify and isolate any potential security threat. SD-WAN makes it possible to segment traffic so that threats do not affect the entire network.
Lower total cost of ownership: Healthcare organizations can save on their monthly WAN expenses because SD-WAN is paid for on a subscription basis. It’s only necessary to pay for exactly the number of users needed because the solution can easily scale up and down according to the organization’s needs. These costs are categorized as operating expenses, rather than requiring a large capital investment for a network solution purchase with hardware.
SD-WAN offers an MPLS replacement that still capitalizes on the benefits of MPLS while providing lower-cost alternatives for non-mission-critical data transmissions. SD-WAN 2.0 is the next generation of SD-WAN, packaged as an all-in-one solution that smart businesses are using to elevate their networks. As a simple, secure, centralized, reliable solution, SD-WAN 2.0 is the ideal MPLS replacement.
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