Debunking the myth between SD-WAN and MPLS

Debunking the myth between SD-WAN and MPLS

Debunking the myth between SD-WAN and MPLS

Debunking the myth between SD-WAN and MPLS
November 01, 2019

7 alarming factors that could cost your company thousands of dollars if you make this one fatal mistake: Debunking the myth between SD-WAN and MPLS

“SD-WAN is sure to be better than MPLS…” We have heard it many times from people claiming that software-defined networking in a Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is better than Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) in the area of managed services.

However, is it really true for your business?

MPLS has always been competing against SD-WAN solutions to meet today’s high demands and expanding needs for networked-critical systems. In reality, there are more to these claims than meets the eye. In this article, we will compare the pros and cons between these 2 network technologies and you will then be able to discover whether SD-WAN is actually good for your company.

What is MPLS?

MPLS is a traditional network technology that forwards data for network traffic and directs data through a path via labels. This helps to eliminate the need for complicated lookups in a routing table at every stop and a label is assigned to each packet to differentiate itself from other traffic on Wide Area Network (WAN). 3

What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN is a networking technology that uses software to make wide-area networks more intelligent and flexible by connecting sites directly to the internet over commodity broadband links. This helps to eliminate the need for administering each WAN device manually. It is being done through the use of managing configurations centrally and access policies. 3

If you want to find out more about everything you need to know about SD-WAN, do read up another blog on it by clicking here. 

MPLS VS SD-WAN: The 7 deadly factors that will cost your company a lot if you don’t make the right choice in selecting the right technology


MPLS comes with a high bandwidth cost. It is not suitable for high bandwidth that is above 100m as its circuit cost is expensive. MPLS requires a huge amount of effort to add new links as compared to SD-WAN. Thus, MPLS is not recommended for companies with branch offices, remote sites and those who need to grow their distributed network capabilities quickly. Unlike MPLS, SD-WAN comes with zero bandwidth cost through the use of many, high-bandwidth and cheap Internet connections simultaneously. Customers are able to upgrade with ease by adding new links without causing any changes to the infrastructure or the network. Through this process, your company will then have an inexpensive internet connection without sacrificing its performance. 1, 2


MPLS can only send traffic via one network connection and that the settings of your class of service cannot be changed. Thus, resulting in low speed at which the traffic is being sent. However, SD-WAN will help to control unimportant traffic while sending the rest of the traffic via the fastest route across the internet circuit. Therefore, with only the important traffic being sent across the fastest route, it will enable SD-WAN to perform at its highest performance. 1


MPLS will have a failover to a substitute internet connection. However, you will experience some delay during the failover most of the time; which will decrease the uptime on MPLS for your company. Unlike MPLS, SD-WAN can allow your company to aggregate many ISP Internet and Wide Area Network (WAN) at a single site. Thus, your company will not have any circuit redundancy for your WAN which will increase uptime for your company. 1

Performance independent of geographical location

MPLS does not have a network for companies in a remote or international location. As a result, those companies will have an underperforming network as they run all traffic over an IPsec VPN. However, the benefits that SD-WAN provides for your company will never change, regardless of the underlying ISP your company is using. This is done through the use of switching transport for businesses. The cable or wireless infrastructure that connects the branch offices and data centres allows the company to mix and match them based on bandwidth availability. It will then quickly and easily spin up new connections to remote locations. Therefore, there will not be any underperforming network when using SD-WAN regardless of your geographical location. 1, 2, 5

Reliability and quality of service 

MPLS is able to deliver packets reliably and provide a high quality of service. It also creates the quality of service buckets that ensure high priority traffic being delivered with minimum packet loss; this helps the system to operate without any loss of signal or quality over an MPLS framework. Thus, this network is significantly important for companies that rely on real-time protocols such as VoIP, virtual desktops and video conferencing. However, SD-WAN still connects your sites using the public internet which will carry a high amount of data loss risk. As soon as the packets reach the public internet, it is very difficult to ensure a low level of packet loss, latency and jitter which will definitely cause real-time applications to fail. These lost packets will ultimately cause congestion which will result in a time out. 2, 3, 4, 6

Without SDWAN @ 2% Packet Loss 2% Packet Loss with VMware SD-WAN
Without SD-WAN @ 2% Packet Loss 2% Packet Loss with SD-WAN

High predictability of traffic

As each packet is assigned with a label, MPLS is able to separate it from other traffic on the Wide Area Network. When a label is being assigned to each packet, MPLS providers can then assign different priority to certain network traffic. These benefits, which are derived from the assigned labels to individual packet, will help to bring predictability of traffic to a network. 3

High level of Security

SD-WAN is heavily invested in security as it integrates security, policy, and orchestration of network architecture. All network, which includes the internet, that is sent in SD-WAN architecture are encrypted. All devices and endpoints are completely authenticated through the use of a scalable key-exchange functionality and software-defined security. Therefore, with the help of the encryption of information and the scalable key-exchange functionality, the security of SD-WAN network is enhanced. 3, 5


This table shows a summary of the respective features that MPLS and SD-WAN provide.






Increased Performance


Increased Uptime


Performance independent of Geographical location


Reliability and Quality of Services


High Predictability of Traffic


High Level Of Security



So which should I choose for my company: SD-WAN or MPLS?

With SD-WAN technology offering more benefits than MPLS, companies may choose to take up SD-WAN technology. From its inexpensive cost to flexibility to easy of linking and to the increased security that SD-WAN offers, the benefits of SD-WAN is really obvious.

No wonder, many have claimed that SD-WAN is better than MPLS but does that necessarily mean that it is better for your company?

The answer is No.

Why? The reason is simple; many businesses may choose to take up SD-WAN than MPLS as they are trying to make their WAN infrastructure more efficient and evolve towards more cloud-based applications. Now, this means that if your company is using the cloud, SD-WAN would definitely be a better choice than MPLS.

However, if your company relies heavily on mission-critical, real-time applications running over the WAN such as phone calls, video conferencing and remote desktop, MPLS would be a better choice for your company.4


In summary, if your company is more suited for MPLS but you choose SD-WAN instead or vice versa, then that is the number one fatal mistake that will cost your company tons of money.

If you are still confused or unsure to choose between MPLS or SD-WAN, you do not have to worry or be frustrated! 

Here at Netpluz, we provide free consultation and LIVE DEMO to better decide which network technology is best for your company. Click here to contact us for a free consultation!

Author: Chua Yi Run Stace


  1. Smith, Mike C., and IDG Contributor Network. “Is SD-WAN Better than MPLS?” Network World, Network World, 21 Sept. 2017,
  2. Connor Craven. “SD-WAN vs MPLS: The Pros and Cons of Both Technologies” SDxCentral, 24th July 2017,
  3. “SD-WAN vs MPLS” , Forcepoint,
  4. “SD WAN vs MPLS: Pros and Cons”, FS.Com, 26th Jul. 2018,
  5. “The Primary Benefits of SD-WAN Technology” , SDxCentral, 27th Jun. 2017,
  6. Rivenes, L, “What are the Causes of Packet Loss?”, 8th Mar. 2016,