Is It The End of Mpls?

Suresh Kumar Vijayen

Is It The End of Mpls?

For decades, enterprises have utilized MPLS, which offers predetermined, unidirectional routes between pairs of routers by placing a label on packets. This enables it to reduce processing time at each router since labels indicate where data must travel next. 

Enterprises get attracted to MPLS benefits of having consistent network performance due to Class of Service classifications applied to the packets. Thus, if the link is congested, less urgent traffic will be diverted onto slower routes. This maintains the best user experience. Besides, MPLS providers can assign greater importance to specific network traffic, making it efficient with improvements in performance and bandwidth utilization. However, despite all the goodies, MPLS was a sufficient solution for past challenges, it was intended to offer a stable and dependable connection when branch offices sent traffic back to a headquarters or data center. Moreover, MPLS is an exclusive link purchased from a carrier, thus far more expensive.

Since the emergence of Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN), there have been numerous debates around SD-WAN and MPLS. Many indicate that SD-WAN is deemed to be the ”MPLS killer” with the idea that enterprises can utilize multiple broadbands as a backbone, hence lowering the operation cost and eliminating expensive MPLS services. For example, for organizations currently working remotely, MPLS has become prohibitively expensive, especially to upgrade, as the streaming of videos or other multimedia content requires significantly higher bandwidth. Furthermore, SD-WAN enables direct cloud access regardless of location, eliminating route traffic through the data center. Overall, SD-WAN provides an option for those who require hybrid network configurations and a faster, more cost-effective solution than MPLS by providing multiple high-bandwidth connections simultaneously, whether MPLS, broadband, or wireless.

In short, MPLS and SD-WAN technologies are complementary. Therefore, it’s essential to understand that SD-WAN is an overlay technology; meanwhile, MPLS is one of several options for the underlay that sits underneath to provide the connectivity for an SD-WAN network. Since SD-WAN and MPLS aren’t the same thing, it’s slightly illogical to say one will replace another. Instead, it is vital to understand how to use each technology in a network to provide the best possible solution and price without impacting performance.