Is SD-WAN or MPLS Better for My Company? A Cost Effective Solution with Better Performance

February 01, 2023

If you haven’t switched from MPLS to SD-WAN, you aren’t alone! Many businesses don’t know the advantages of SD-WAN vs MPLS, so they haven’t been eager to switch networks yet. To fully comprehend the benefits of SD-WAN, you’ll need to know what sets it apart from MPLS. While the systems both have their place in the commercial world, there are clear reasons to make the move.

What is MPLS?

MPLS is short for Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and has been the traditional networking system for over 20 years. The primary purpose of MPLS is to move data as quickly as possible from one area to another. These circuits must be installed at every location where data exchange is needed, such as a corporate office and branch office. This system is reliable and performs very well; however, as apps and data are now moving more to the cloud, the need for a better system has been evident. MPLS is typically used to connect sites that are geographically dispersed or have large amounts of data to transfer.

What is SD-WAN?

This is where SD-WAN, or Software-defined wide-area networking, has stepped up to the plate.  The system shares the same functionality as MPLS when it comes to connecting locations such as corporations to remote workers, but the comparisons fork from that point. SD-WAN uses the public internet to create a virtual private network (VPN) between sites and allows for the prioritization of traffic. This simplifies the WAN by no longer needing transport layers. Customers can now utilize a variety of networking methods including MPLS circuits, broadband, LTE, 5G, and more.


With the use of the cloud becoming more popular, businesses are seeking a way to provide users with a reliable connection while allowing them to access data and apps from any location at any time. Upgrading to SD-WAN is the solution, and the results have been impressive. Not only is the secure connection fast and predictable, but it’s also cost-effective as well.  There is also less overhead, making it easier to manage.

The main difference between SD-WAN and MPLS is the way in which each technology is used. SD-WAN is designed for use by smaller businesses, as it is easier to set up and manage. SD-WAN is also designed to be flexible and can be easily modified to meet the specific needs of a business. Additionally, SD-WAN can be used to connect different types of applications and services, including Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and storage services.

Implementing SD-WAN is an investment in the future for cloud-based businesses. While MPLS has been the standard for over two decades, it’s no longer sustainable or logical with the current evolving technology. With MPLS requiring physical links to each location, this type of networking is only going to become more expensive as business increase their cloud usage.  

SD-WAN vs MPLS – Speed, Cost, and Security

Since SD-WAN automatically chooses the best path for sending data, the speed and accuracy have increased dramatically. This is clear in instances like video calls where the lag time is decreased or even non-existent. The cost is lowered when high-usage bandwidth can be saved for the most demanding applications. Plus, with SD-WAN a business can simply add bandwidth as needed.

When comparing SD-WAN vs MPLS, security cannot be ignored. MPLS technology was designed for networking first – not for security. All traffic is routed to a central location with can increase bandwidth and decrease the quality of performance. SD-WAN makes the most of an optimal-performing networking system with the highest security standards to protect against real-time cyber threats and malicious attacks.

While there is no reason your current MPLS networking system won’t be reliable and usable for a few more years, it seems to make sense to switch to SD-WAN as soon as possible. The future is here, security threats are real, and lowering networking costs is always a great reason to embrace new technology!

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