MPLS vs. SD WAN – Which Is Right For Your SMB?

As more and more SMBs expand to multiple offices they find the need to collaborate and share files internally. Systems such as File Services, Voice, Faxing, and more all rely on inter connectivity.


A decade ago if you wanted to create internal communications and collaboration systems you had one option – VPN. The Site-To-Site VPN, while still works today, is heavily dependent on the internet connection at both ends being reliable. Enter stage left, multi-protocol layered switching (MPLS), which quickly became the premier means of building internal communications.


Despite the obvious benefits of a MPLS network, innovation in communications technology have founded new possibilities for SMBs to connect and collaborate. Enter stage right, software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN).


While both options are completely viable for your SMB, SD-WAN is quickly becoming the “go-to” standard due to lower costs.


When MPLS makes sense over SD-WAN?


The main benefits of MPLS is its ability to support high-bandwidth applications without sacrificing Quality of Service (QoS) or business continuity. Normally, we would argue that this is a necessity in any organization, in reality it only makes sense in large enterprises with several locations.


MPLS comes with some challenges that make it hard for a SMB to support:


  • Large Upfront Cost: Creating a private infrastructure requires major upfront costs due to engineering and construction.
  • Complex Maintenance: While service providers manage and maintain all equipment, the specialized training and dedicated staff needed drive up the cost of services.
  • More Features than Necessary: Features such as intelligent metering are great for large high-bandwidth enterprise application, however, SMBs probably do not need this feature but are stuck paying for it anyway.


The simple matter is, while MPLS is an amazing technology, SMBs cannot afford (and often don’t need) the services that MPLS provide. Instead SD-WAN has emerged as a more appropriate option for SMBs.


Benefits of SD WAN for SMBs.


SD-WAN enables you to bunch together several different internet connections – fiber, cable, DSL, cellular – to create a single network for your SMB. This is far more affordable than paying for a private MPLS network, making SD-WAN a more appropriate option.


Investing in a primary fiber circuit with 4-nines and a consumer grade backup circuit allows you to cut the cost of expensive MPLS circuits, while providing an acceptable level of business continuity. SD-WAN also provides a certain level of metering, allowing you to force low-bandwidth applications to run on the slower internet connection and vice versa.


Overall, SD-WAN is the better option to lower cost while offering the most competitive level of service.

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