How to Keep your MPLS Network (but still use SD-WAN)

We’ve talked about using SD-WAN to right-size your corporate MPLS network.

There’s a few reasons you might find yourself in a position of wanting to do that, including increased reliance on Software as a Service (and therefore raised internal awareness of the impacts of latency on performance), or just a general desire to bring the corporate network construct into the 21st century.

But not everyone wants to move off their existing MPLS network. For those that want to stick with it – and there are many, with good reasons to do so – SD-WAN offers a chance to add value, flexibility and agility to a traditional network setup.

how to keep mpls but still use sd wan

SD-WAN is a software overlay for the physical network links that connect your head office and any other sites on your corporate network. It can manage both fixed and mobile links, and can be used to deploy, control and manage those links from a central point.

Where traditionally you might have procured your network links from a single MPLS provider, SD-WAN gives you the choice to add new links into that mix and manage them together as a single network.

However, a common misconception for SD-WAN is that it is about replacing your existing WAN or MPLS network entirely, when in fact it can be a great tool to build on what you already have.

This could be an attractive model if you still have some years to run on an existing contract for the provision of MPLS services, but want to test or take advantage of newer modes of connectivity, or if you have immediate bandwidth requirements that can’t be easily or economically addressed by your incumbent provider.

It could also suit risk-averse organisations. For example, a large bank might have a requirement to keep using a traditional wired network to run data replication between sites, but there’s nothing to stop them overlaying that traditional network to get benefits they can’t get from their traditional WAN.

Those benefits include:

  1. Being able to adapt to new network requirements faster

    SD-WAN can help you get a new branch up and running on the corporate network quickly.

  2. Taking advantage of intelligent path selection

    Central policies can be set to optimise how particular types of application traffic are routed over the corporate network. That could be to address quality of service, time of day or specific application processing requirements – a cumbersome task on a traditional network. SD-WAN automatically selects the optimum path for every application. This can restrict business-critical traffic to the existing MPLS network, while directing less critical traffic across an Internet VPN. Given industry averages for bandwidth costs, payback for a SD-WAN investment starts immediately.

  3. Central management and control

    Enforcing policy is a lot easier when you don’t have to set up and manage everything locally at each branch or remote office. SD-WAN provides a seamless overlay across any transport type with a centralised dashboard that enables central policy application and management, as well as rapid and simplified change management. It also enables detailed monitoring between every endpoint in the network, allowing for rapid identification and remediation of carrier-related issues.

  4. Treat cloud as part of the network

    It is possible to extend your SD-WAN fabric into the cloud providers where you host your business critical systems. In other words, your WAN can be extended up to the cloud provider’s edge, making their services appear as if they are part of your WAN.

Talk to us today about how SD-WAN can change the way you view your network.

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Andoni Salvador
Author Name: Andoni Salvador

Andoni Salvador is a Network Solutions Architect at NTT Communications ICT Solutions (NTT ICT) with over 14 years’ experience in the IT industry. He thrives on working closely with customers to understand their business requirements and technology environment, then designing a robust network solution that is fit for purpose.

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Added 11 August 2017

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