Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) is an established technology offering dedicated, private connections between locations. While more costly than SD-WAN, it may provide improved performance and reliability.

However, adding a new location to an MPLS network requires using the same service provider at every location – which creates vendor tie-in and may take additional time and resources to implement.


Determining which solution best meets the business requirements and priorities of an organization depends on many variables, including network performance expectations, scalability needs, security and compliance needs, budget restrictions and budget considerations. When making this choice between multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) and software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), take into account various criteria including network performance expectations, scalability needs, security compliance regulations as well as budget considerations before making your selection. When making this choice – which solution best meets them depends entirely upon each organization assessing business requirements and priorities as well as applications criticality/sensitivity such as real time data transmission/video conferencing applications to determine if low latency/consistent bandwidth is absolutely required by making an evaluation.

Though both MPLS and SD-WAN can connect dispersed sites, their respective methods for providing services differ significantly. MPLS uses hardware to create a private network while SD-WAN uses software. SD-WAN offers several key benefits over its MPLS counterpart: reduced costs due to using existing Internet connections instead of expensive private lines; central device management capabilities; better visibility into application performance.

SD-WAN offers more affordability and simplicity compared to its MPLS counterpart, while providing more flexibility and resiliency by routing traffic over various paths such as cell towers or broadband Internet connections. While these networks may experience occasional packet losses, most SD-WAN solutions automatically divert traffic away from any lossy connections.

SD-WAN may be more cost-effective than MPLS for some businesses; however, MPLS provides more secure real-time data solutions by prioritizing traffic over service provider backbone networks and guaranteeing quality-of-service (QoS). MPLS offers lower latency than both cellular and broadband Internet connections – making it perfect for mission critical applications.

MPLS can also be more costly than SD-WAN due to requiring dedicated lines for every site, which may not be an issue for smaller sites that only require several megabits of bandwidth per month, but for larger organizations this expense could add up quickly.

Businesses seeking to reduce the high costs associated with MPLS could use a hybrid model combining MPLS and SD-WAN to optimize business-critical apps while providing users with direct internet access to cloud apps and the web, all while meeting compliance and regulatory requirements for data protection. This strategy would allow businesses to prioritize business-critical apps while meeting compliance and regulatory standards regarding data protection requirements.


As businesses transition to the cloud, they are seeking ways to enhance network performance while cutting costs. One option for doing this is switching from multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) to software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN). SD-WAN provides many advantages over its predecessor including enhanced security and performance as well as greater bandwidth capacity and an easier management platform – selecting an SD-WAN solution is best determined after considering your network needs and goals carefully.

SD-WAN differs from MPLS by using physical components to build its private network while MPLS uses software to establish virtual private networking (VPN). Therefore, SD-WAN typically has lower up-front capital costs compared to traditional MPLS solutions; however, each option offers different tradeoffs.

SD-WAN can improve application performance by routing traffic over multiple WAN links and prioritizing traffic based on its importance, making it ideal for applications requiring high quality service such as VoIP, video conferencing and real-time virtual desktops. In addition, its reliability provides more secure cloud connections than MPLS does.

SD-WAN can easily integrate into existing infrastructure. It utilizes different types of WAN connections – including MPLS lines – to link branch offices with central data centers. This not only improves performance and redundancy in case of failure but also saves bandwidth by eliminating backhaul data to its original destination which may cause latency issues.

SD-WAN can offer advanced features, including packet inspection and deep network visibility, detection and repair of lost-in-transit packets, optimization of network traffic to enhance performance for critical applications, as well as ensure business critical data protection – an especially vital feature in times of emergency or outage.

MPLS networks are increasingly popular for companies that need to deliver high-quality data, offering security, privacy, and quality of service on dedicated links that offer security, privacy, and quality of service – making them an excellent solution for prioritizing traffic for critical business-critical applications while protecting against costly outages with failover protection services or consolidating functions into one product and automating many operations.


MPLS networks may provide more secure solutions when handling data that requires high levels of integrity and privacy; however, these are expensive to deploy and require expensive specialized hardware. An affordable alternative that can be implemented over commodity broadband services such as internet or LTE is SD-WAN which offers businesses all of their desired security features as well as more flexible connections to data center, cloud services, and branch offices.

Traditional MPLS relies on a hub and spoke architecture to route traffic across private network connections to each branch office, which reduces latency and increases speed; however, this method requires significant investment in networking equipment and services; additionally, MPLS networks may present security vulnerabilities if improperly configured.

SD-WAN allows businesses to secure traffic at the branch level by inspecting packets and enforcing security policies, helping prevent malware or other threats from entering their networks. Furthermore, this technology improves performance by eliminating backhaul traffic to central locations which saves bandwidth while improving network reliability.

SD-WAN offers more cost savings and easier administration than MPLS. It requires less bandwidth usage, can provide a more stable connection by using multiple WAN links for redundancy, can manage complex routing settings with greater ease, is more flexible in its scaling capability and deployment can occur over public internet rather than an expensive MPLS circuit.

Before selecting one solution over the other for your business, it is crucial to fully comprehend the differences between MPLS and SD-WAN. Both offer advantages; there is no universally suitable answer. Some organizations opt for combining them for optimal connectivity, security, and performance.

Businesses are seeking new technologies that will better connect their distributed workforce. MPLS remains an effective option, yet no longer meets enterprise demand for high-speed and low-latency network performance across their networks. MPLS requires weeks for provisioning while SD-WAN utilizes affordable public Internet bandwidth while also featuring zero trust architecture for enhanced security.


One of the primary advantages of MPLS is its high level of QoS (Quality of Service), making it especially suitable for real-time protocols like voice over IP (VoIP). Unfortunately, this service can also be relatively costly; you may need to commit for several years. Luckily, SD-WAN solutions offer comparable performance at much reduced costs by employing various transport methods – including broadband and LTE – plus active/active failover capabilities and highly reliable routing processes that ensure priority data always reaches its destination.

Businesses of all kinds are turning to SD-WAN to reduce costs and enhance security, but some IT leaders remain uncertain whether SD-WAN should completely replace their MPLS infrastructure. Transitioning can be expensive and it takes time for staff members to adjust.

Both technologies can coexist on a business network and work in tandem to deliver optimal results. MPLS excels at providing high-performance connections between data centers and branches, while SD-WAN offers greater control of application traffic.

SD-WANs offer superior network security to MPLS solutions. By monitoring network traffic in real-time and applying policies to shield an organization from threats, these solutions offer stronger defense than their MPLS counterparts. Many solutions also come equipped with a central management system for easy deployment and management.

SD-WANs not only offer greater visibility and security, they’re often far cheaper than MPLS circuits – often up to 40% lower for similar reliability and performance! This is possible as SD-WANs utilize multiple underlays such as broadband internet and public wifi to connect sites – this flexibility allowing businesses to save on maintenance costs as well as capital expenses.

While MPLS circuits remain the solution of choice for some organizations, their cost has become prohibitively expensive and performance may be affected by issues like congestion and packet loss. SD-WANs on the other hand are built using virtualized hardware that routes data intelligently over public internet infrastructure.

Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.