MPLS is Dead, Long Live SD-WAN?

Leading Resolutions Consulting Director Pete Smyth examines the key differences between MPLS and SD Wan.
November 12 2019

Everywhere you go, you hear the same phrases


“SD-WAN is so much cheaper”

“MPLS is old hat”

“Tell me how to migrate to SD-WAN”

The problem is that SD-WAN isn’t a replacement for traditional MPLS circuits, it's just different.

SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network) is not a networking technology in itself, it is a way to overlay management of network links, which may be provided in many different ways. That might be internet links, 4G (or maybe 5G) connections, and it might also include MPLS!

The key thing at in any SD-WAN project is to consider the structure of your business. Are your applications mainly SaaS based? Are you mainly based in a few sites or do you have wide geographic spread? Are you UK based or do you work across the globe? Do you have applications that need extra security or have high latency issues?

Using SD-WAN you can create a network that utilises the best network solution for each part of your business.  Do you have a big branch network accessing mainly cloud-based apps? Then an internet link (or even 4G) via an SD-WAN might be the cheapest and best solution. Have a major office running a high-intensity data application hosted in separate DC? An MPLS link within your SD-WAN might be the answer.

SD-WAN doesn’t replace or kill MPLS, it just gives you more choice. It’s likely that MPLS will decline as fewer circuits are required, but there is likely to be a place for it for years to come.


So then maybe we should be saying
“MPLS isn’t dead yet, it’s part of SD-WAN!”

Note from the Author - Pete Smyth

Let me know your thoughts about MPLS and SD Wan and by all means get in touch with me on LinkedIn / email with your comments and any questions. I’d love to hear how you are responding and of course answer any questions you may have.

Pete Smyth LinkedIn