When connecting two or more locations, using MPLS has been the standard protocol. Since MPLS is known for its scalability and reliable packet delivery, it’s generally regarded as a superior solution to keep traffic flowing. For instance, real-time protocols like Voice over IP (VoIP) depend on this reliability.

MPLS providers can also separate and prioritize network traffic, so packets can only travel along pre-defined paths.

Although MPLS is dependable, there are some downsides. For instance, its intense appetite for bandwidth is costly. While bandwidth wasn’t much of an issue fifteen years ago, it is today. People consume heavy multimedia content around the clock. Video conferencing – something most companies can’t avoid – also eats up large amounts of bandwidth.

Maintaining security with MPLS network can be tedious. There’s no built-in data protection, and if it’s not setup correctly, the entire network can become vulnerable. Many businesses choose to implement a Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) instead.

1. Standard WAN is good; SD-WAN is better

Standard WANs aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Although they help centralize IT infrastructure and have increased bandwidth, standard WANs come with high setup costs due to their complexity. The bigger your WAN, the more you’ll spend to setup connectivity in remote areas. SD-WAN, on the other hand, utilizes public networks which reduces setup costs.

Unfortunately, setting up a SD-WAN on the public internet means unpredictable latency, so companies still need to maintain some MPLS capacity when deploying a traditional SD-WAN.

2. Standard WANs lack security

Standard WANs can be a security problem. Most companies deploy security only at their data centers to control data sent to their locations. However, this eliminates the ability to handle security breaches directly at each location. Also, it’s difficult to compress and accelerate SSL traffic without making the network more vulnerable.

SD-WAN, on the other hand, can be used to expand WAN capacity and offload internet-bound traffic at the branch. Though, traditional SD-WAN falls short of addressing cloud resources.

There is a next generation of SD-WAN, however, and it’s an innovation created by Cato Networks. They’ve developed SD-WAN with built-in network security delivered as a cloud service. Cato’s SD-WAN replaces MPLS and provides full stack network security maintained and configured within a cloud-based management application.

Being able to maintain your network configuration securely in the cloud from one application is a huge convenience for any business with a network, large or small.

3. SD-WAN offers more uptime

It’s impossible to guarantee your data center will function around the clock. Therefore, data center managers need to be able to detect issues with a standard WAN before they cause a problem. If not, downtime is guaranteed to disrupt the network, and it will be expensive.

Businesses are losing $700 billion dollars per year to IT downtime. “Our research found that the cost of ICT downtime is substantial,” says IHS Research Director Matthias Machowinski, “from $1 million a year for a typical mid-size company to over $60 million for a large enterprise.”

The two main costs of this downtime are lost productivity and lost revenue. Although nothing is ever 100% guaranteed, you can rely on SD-WAN for more uptime.

4. SD-WAN is cheaper in the long run

While cost is good to consider, it shouldn’t be your primary concern. Maintaining network uptime, security, and reliability should always be your priority. However, SD-WAN will save you more money in the long run.

You can count on your network’s uptime, and your employees will be able to maintain their flow of productivity. You’ll avoid expensive setup fees, and since there’s limited hardware to manage, you won’t get stuck waiting for a tech to come out and fix your equipment.

Moving from MPLS to SD-WAN is like switching from DSL to Broadband. Except, instead of paying more for better service you’ll pay less.