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How to Transition from MPLS to SD-WAN

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Enterprise Architecture (EA) is a well-defined framework for conducting enterprise analysis, design, planning, and implementation for the successful development and execution of strategy. Practitioners of EA, known as Enterprise Architects, are often called upon to draw conclusions from the [read more]

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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).

MPLS

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

SD-WAN

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!

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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.




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