Flevy Blog is an online business magazine covering Business Strategies, Business Theories, & Business Stories.

How to Transition from MPLS to SD-WAN

Editor's Note: Take a look at our featured best practice, Model Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) (179-slide PowerPoint presentation). Unlock the Power of Complete Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) with Our Comprehensive Toolkit! Are you ready to revolutionize your systems engineering practices and elevate your projects to new heights of efficiency and effectiveness? Look no further! Introducing the Complete [read more]

* * * *

In 2022, now more than ever it is vital that an enterprise chooses the computer network which gives them the highest level of functionality possible. With more and more businesses going partially or fully remote in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the question begs: which network will optimize productivity for the enterprise while also being the most sensible choice?

For the last quarter of a century, enterprises have typically operated using MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) since it completely revolutionized the way computers spoke to one another. 

As a result, MPLS connected systems in a way never seen before. However, as the need to expand our horizons with how we use and interpret data grew, we began to see the limits imposed by MPLS.

As we moved into the digital era, the need for ease of access became prominent. Unfortunately, our current systems failed to give enterprises the ease they needed. 

Then came SD-WAN, which completely shifted how we looked at and used our computer networks. SD-WAN uses multiple networks at once and makes networking user-friendly for all.

Every enterprise wants business to run smoothly and effectively. The correct technology must be in place. This guide will help you understand how transitioning to SD-WAN from MPLS is done properly when the time comes for you!

The Pros and Cons of MPLS and SD-WAN

It’s important to remember that the systems we no longer use aren’t necessarily trash, just as the ones we now hail aren’t all treasures. Let’s take a peek at what makes each system so great (and a few of its drawbacks as well).


Multiprotocol Label Switching has long been the go-to choice since it offers mainly one private network. The system connects offices by keeping the shared data in-house (typically at the physical company offices). The system bases itself on the use of hardware primarily.

The Pros

  • MPLS is managed by a service provider, meaning you have less to oversee.
  • The system has consistently had a very high level of service, operating upon a single network.

The Cons

  • MPLS costs entirely more money than competitor options
  • Changes take longer to take effect and typically cost you more money


Software-Defined Wide Area Networking, on the other hand, is the opposite. The system can be run over multiple networks and accessed from just about any location. 

The Pros

  • You, the enterprise, manage the system, which gives you a high level of control over how it’s used and what it’s used for.
  • You have the flexibility to do your own thing with the system, given that you run it!

The Cons

  • The enterprise will require additional resources to manage everything you use the system for.
  • Because you oversee the system, consistent maintenance is required.

Many enterprises have had to weigh the good and bad of each system. We should ask, “is it worth it to switch at this time?” The answer is up to you. However, we should note why so many enterprises have decided to switch. There are many details to consider, so be sure you contemplate them all!

How to Make the Jump from MPLS to SD-WAN

You’ve weighed the pros and cons. You know the things your enterprise needs to achieve full functionality, and you’re ready to convert! So how do you do it?

Step One: Understand What Your Network Needs to Operate

Keep in mind what your bandwidth requirements are. Consider which applications you wish to include. Know which services you want to provide. All these use bandwidth, so planning for that will make everything smoother.

Step Two: Management

Remember that by choosing SD-WAN, your enterprise will be in control of managing everything on the system. There are options for you to choose that allow others to oversee you, but ultimately management is something you will need to plan for. Communication is key between those who run the enterprise and those who manage the system.

Step Three: Make it Happen!

Ultimately, how your enterprise fully converts from MPLS to SDWAN will be a unique experience because your enterprise is one of a kind, so there may not be a direct road map for how to convert. 

However, our friends at Lightyear worked up a few diagrams that give a great visual roadmap for achieving success in making the ultimate jump.

Closing Thoughts

Change is always a difficult thing. It puts us in a place where we second-guess every decision and requires us to look at everything differently. However, change is necessary for an enterprise to evolve and stay current and competitive.

It may seem that making the conversion would be more trouble than it’s worth. We challenge those who think outside the bubble of their comfort zone. You can easily take your enterprise to great places! Make the jump today!

342-slide PowerPoint presentation
Unlocking the Power of Enterprise Architecture: Your Complete Business Toolkit In today's fast-paced and ever-evolving business landscape, organizations are constantly seeking ways to optimize their operations, enhance their competitive edge, and adapt to the challenges of the digital age. [read more]

Do You Want to Implement Business Best Practices?

You can download in-depth presentations on Enterprise Architecture and 100s of management topics from the FlevyPro Library. FlevyPro is trusted and utilized by 1000s of management consultants and corporate executives.

For even more best practices available on Flevy, have a look at our top 100 lists:

These best practices are of the same as those leveraged by top-tier management consulting firms, like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, and Accenture. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by utilizing these best practice frameworks, templates, and tools. Most were developed by seasoned executives and consultants with over 20+ years of experience.

Readers of This Article Are Interested in These Resources

24-slide PowerPoint presentation
The Capability Maturity Model (CMM) is an organizational model that describes 5 evolutionary stages (or levels), in which the business processes in an organization are managed. The term "maturity" relates to the degree of formality and optimization of processes, from ad hoc practices, to formally [read more]

14-slide PowerPoint presentation
Excel workbook

About Shane Avron

Shane Avron is a freelance writer, specializing in business, general management, enterprise software, and digital technologies. In addition to Flevy, Shane's articles have appeared in Huffington Post, Forbes Magazine, among other business journals.

Complimentary Business Training Guides

Many companies develop robust strategies, but struggle with operationalizing their strategies into implementable steps. This presentation from flevy introduces 12 powerful business frameworks spanning both Strategy Development and Strategy Execution. [Learn more]

  This 48-page whitepaper, authored by consultancy Envisioning, provides the frameworks, tools, and insights needed to manage serious Change—under the backdrop of the business lifecycle. These lifecycle stages are each marked by distinct attributes, challenges, and behaviors. [Learn more]

We've developed a very comprehensive collection of Strategy & Transformation PowerPoint templates for you to use in your own business presentations, spanning topics from Growth Strategy to Brand Development to Innovation to Customer Experience to Strategic Management. [Learn more]

  We have compiled a collection of 10 Lean Six Sigma templates (Excel) and Operational Excellence guides (PowerPoint) by a multitude of LSS experts. These tools cover topics including 8 Disciplines (8D), 5 Why's, 7 Wastes, Value Stream Mapping (VSM), and DMAIC. [Learn more]
Recent Articles by Corporate Function






The Flevy Business Blog (https://flevy.com/blog) is a leading source of information on business strategies, business theories, and business stories. Most of our articles are authored by management consultants and industry executives with over 20 years of experience.

Flevy (https://flevy.com) is the marketplace for business best practices, such as management frameworks, presentation templates, and financial models. Our best practice documents are of the same caliber as those produced by top-tier consulting firms (like McKinsey, Bain, Accenture, BCG, and Deloitte) and used by Fortune 100 organizations. Learn more about Flevy here.

Connect with Flevy:


About Flevy.com   /   Terms   /   Privacy Policy
© . Flevy LLC. All Rights Reserved.