When comparing MPLS VPN and SD-WAN solutions, people fail to mention the one true complication with SD-WAN solutions: finding the right product for your business.
Why is choosing a SD-WAN solution more complicated than the legacy MPLS options?
When looking at a MPLS VPN solution, it’s simple: you get virtual routing and forwarding (VRF) on a service provider core, link your branches through encrypted, logical point-to-point links and configure quality of service (QoS). The basis is the same for all businesses, regardless of your individual requirements or the service provider (SP) providing it. With MPLS, your differentiators are limited to SP performance, costs and value-added services.
On the other hand, SD-WAN comes in many flavours. Each vendor has their own vision guiding their product offering. The few aspects that seem to be consistent are central orchestration, zero-touch deployment (ZTD) and a method for private, inter-branch communication. Some vendors focus on security, some on simplification, some on integration of all security, local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN) infrastructure, and some on WAN traffic management, optimising user experience. All the different products have mostly the same features embedded in their offering; however, they normally excel in one or two of these features.