MPLS PWANs and SD-WAN broadly achieve one of the same main goals - that they connect two or more sites together to form a Wide Area Network (WAN).
However the way that they achieve this is slightly different, and the pros and cons of each are varied.
There is not necessarily a right or wrong way to create a WAN, and this page helps to explain some of the differences and what they both mean.
MPLS PWAN stand for Multiprotocol Label Switching Private Wide Area Network:
- MPLS PWANs are fully managed Wide Area Networks that connect various sites together over managed connectivity circuits via the ISP's network.
- The core network, circuits and routers are all managed by the ISP.
- There are no VPNs as the routing is achieved privately via the ISP's core network in a customer-specific VRF.
SD-WAN stands for Software Defined Wide Area Network:
- SD-WAN in contrast takes one or more third party connectivity services and connects them to a device which managed VPNs dynamically across the various connections.
- The circuits are generally provided by a mix of different ISPs.
- The VPNs between the SD-WAN routers are via the public Internet.
- The SD-WAN routers are usually managed by the customer or a managed service provider.
What Giganet supports?
We support MPLS PWANs and SD-WAN.
MPLS PWANs are powered over our carrier-grade Juniper MX core network, and Juniper SRX300 series routers are used at the customer sites.
For SD-WAN, we use Cisco Meraki hardware. However we are independent to consider other manufacturers where required.
We can also design hybrid MPLS PWAN + SD-WAN networks. This is where the majority of the sites and the core network is an MPLS PWAN, but there is a link to the SD-WAN network from our core network. Sites that are not connected using our circuits to each site can use an SD-WAN router and this securely connects back to our core.
Why you'd opt for an MPLS PWAN over an SD-WAN?
- You want someone to take care of everything.
- All your sites are based in the UK, or you are willing to spend a lot of money for international MPLS circuits.
- You want strong SLAs on everything; managed routers, circuits, core firewalls, and the core.
- You have more than 6 sites. Below this then SD-WAN is usually better value.
- You have straight forward connectivity requirements at each site.
- Central internet breakout is acceptable.
- You can commit to at least a 3 year term for the solution.
Why you'd opt for an SD-WAN solution over a MPLS PWAN?
- You want to take a more active part in the management of the WAN.
- You have a few sites, less than 20.
- You have a lot of sites in remote far flung locations where MPLS circuits are too expensive.
- You want more control over where traffic is routed via locally.
- You want more visibility into the traffic at the local site level.
- You are less fussed about SLAs or managed QoS on the circuits.
Why you'd opt for a hybrid SD-WAN and MPLS PWAN solution?
- Probably the ideal scenario for most organisations looking at more than 20 sites.
- It's the perfect compromise between the SLAs, managed QoS, managed support offered with an MPLS, but allows for flexibility in case some sites are international or require a niche connectivity provider which the MPLS PWAN can't connect to directly.
- Usually all provided as a managed service.
|Connectivity circuit provider||Single MPLS provider who has on-net coverage at each site||Could be one ISP, but mostly various at each site, just need raw Internet circuits|
|Type of connectivity||Range of options: ADSL2/FTTC/FTTP/G.Fast/EFM/EoFTTC/Ethernet/3G/4G|
|QoS - Quality of Service options||QoS available across the end-to-end connectivity. From the premises to the core MPLS network.||QoS only possible on the LAN downstream end, no way to influence QoS across ISP networks.|
|Backup/failover options||Range of managed backup failover options using diverse carriers/circuit types. MPLS PWAN router automatically handles failover/back.||Ability to pick and choose connectivity providers for active/standby circuits. SD-WAN router automatically handles failover/back.|
|SLAs||Strict SLAs on the core MPLS PWAN and circuits, often all 24x7x365 6hr fix.||Variable. Depends on carriers. No SLAs on internet transit used for VPNs between circuit providers.|
|International site options||Very expensive, but you can get SLAs and guaranteed bandwidth.||Lower cost but considerably more variable and best efforts.|
|Dynamic traffic engineering across multiple links||Load balancing is possible, but not generally available.||SD-WAN can automatically traffic engineer circuits so that VoIP goes down lower latency circuits whilst high bandwidth applications go via faster circuits.|
|Layer-7/Application insights||Yes, but from core MPLS PWAN internet breakout security appliances/firewalls. Traffic within PWAN is not reported on.||Yes, from each site's SD-WAN router/management dashboard; Internet and WAN traffic analysed.|
|Who supports?||The MPLS PWAN provider.||Usually the end customer.|
|Hardware required||MPLS PWAN managed routers at each site. Proactively monitored and supported by the MPLS PWAN provider.||SD-WAN routers at each site. Usually managed via the SD-WAN provider's web-dashboard and controlled/monitored by the end customer.|
|Vendor lock-in||You have to work with a single MPLS PWAN provider who manages the core, all circuits and managed routers.||You have to work with a single SD-WAN router provider, but you can choose whichever ISP for the connectivity.|