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Hybrid SD-WAN, MPLS and the Freedom to Choose

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Historically, MPLS has been the network of choice for enterprises, due to its inherent security and the guaranteed performance levels associated with Service Level Agreements (SLAs). The logical consequence of these guarantees is the hefty price tag that comes with it. With cloud and video applications driving increased bandwidth usage, the cost-per-megabit of MPLS is simply unsustainable.

Enter SD-WAN

Software-Defined WAN, or SD-WAN, uses public Internet links to build a secure Wide Area Network by creating an encrypted overlay on top of it. This approach promises many benefits, such as network simplification, flexibility, and more importantly, savings on connectivity. The encryption is usually done by creating IPSec tunnels with various levels of added security from one vendor to the other.

Private circuits, such as MPLS, are typically associated with a significantly higher price than their public counterpart like DSL, sometimes at a ratio of 100:1. In remote areas, that ratio is even greater. It’s no wonder SD-WAN deployment is appealing to CIOs and CFOs alike, as it allows them to deliver more bandwidth while containing their network cost.

But doesn’t the SD-WAN cost-savings argument fall apart if the cost of MPLS goes down?

MPLS or SD-WAN? A False Choice

In the United States, networking costs are falling fast, and in some regions it’s not significantly more expensive to adopt MPLS over greater-public options. Since it provides a private network to interconnect corporate sites, MPLS is by nature more secure than broadband. Furthermore, because it comes attached to a rigorous Service Level Agreement (SLA), it also provides a safety net in case of outages, or if performance isn’t up to what the provider promised.

In fact, it may make financial sense to deploy a second or third circuit in case of outages.

The problem, in the case of multi-MPLS, is the complexity and effort required to design and deliver a viable redundancy solution. Typically, businesses using two or more MPLS networks deploy them in an active-passive fashion and rely on the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) to failover between the two, in the event of an outage. This is a painful, manual process.

It’s much easier to perform the same failover process (or even use all circuits simultaneously) with public networks, as they can be used concurrently (or active-active) when using compatible WAN edge appliances.

For these reasons, most SD-WAN vendors will recommend replacing MPLS altogether.

The real reason, however, is that these vendors lack the capacity to manage 2, let alone 3 or 4 MPLS circuits. It doesn’t help that running IPsec tunnels within a MPLS network negates its native performance features such as QoS tagging. Such solutions are in many ways incompatible with MPLS, which reinforces their incentives to displace it.

Layer 2 SD-WAN: The Freedom to Choose

ELFIQ by Adaptiv Networks is not constrained by these technical limitations. Due to our innovative Layer-2 design, ELFIQ products integrate seamlessly in a corporate network without requiring any modification to pre-existing firewalls or routing tables.

The capacity to manage multiple MPLS circuits concurrently and transparently is unique in an SD-WAN landscape where vendors actively claim the impending “death” of MPLS. Despite their best efforts, this has yet to pass.

With ELFIQ, MPLS circuits can be added or removed at will and be used immediately to provide uninterrupted connectivity. ELFIQ products intercept traffic coming in from the local network and forwards it through the fastest path, while taking policies and application prioritization into account.


ELFIQ Link Balancing makes it easy to mix Public Broadband with Private MPLS Circuits

With all things being equal, enterprises should be able to use the technologies of their choice, without having their topology dictated by an SD-WAN vendor. With private and public bandwidth prices converging, having the option to choose is even more important. ELIFQ by Adaptiv Networks helps organizations build a network infrastructure that fits their needs, while being as seamless and unobtrusive as possible. We offer the freedom to adopt SD-WAN solutions, plus the flexibility to retain MPLS and migrate to public broadband connectivity at your own pace.

Contact us today to discuss your goals and find the SD-WAN solution that best fits your needs.