We’ve got to hand it to the team at SD-WAN Experts. In their outstanding paper, “SD-WAN or MPLS: A Pricing Analysis,” they take us through a thorough “side by side” look at the cost of SD-WAN vs MPLS networks based on real-life customers they are serving.

They open up their argument with a statement that businesses can reduce their monthly bandwidth costs by “as much as 90%” – quoting an aggregate view of what SD-WAN providers are promoting. They then challenge this view and show with a “do the math” scenario based on one customer analysis they conducted that the cost reductions were more like 10% not 90%. A new 90/10 rule in reverse?

Nevertheless, as one would guess based solely on their company’s name, this team based in Newton, MA in the US, are sold on SD-WAN vs MPLS solutions, and were able to recover nearly a quarter of that customers’historic spent on MPLS. Here’s the chart view:

sd-wan vs mpls sd wan vs mpls mpls vs sd wan mpls vs sd-wan

We love how the SD-WAN experts think. In summary, their customer had MPLS to 11 locations across the US — 1 data center and 10 branch offices. Each location was within 40ms of the data center.

To replace MPLS with direct Internet access (DIA) connections, they recommended bringing a 100 Mbps connection into the data center and 10 Mbps into the branch offices. The customer kept the secondary connections and added LTE connections for additional redundancy.

“To put that another way, with the Internet he paid $13 per Mbps/month instead of $110 per Mbps/month for MPLS,” the paper shares. “The per-megabit price is even lower when you factor in the secondary DIA connections, which sat dormant with MPLS, but could now be used with SD-WAN.”

SD-WAN vs MPLS Can We Do Better?

We encourage everybody interested in learning more about the advantages of SD-WAN vs MPLS and other traditional networking approaches to dig into this paper, and we agree 100% with their observations that Internet service quality has improved dramatically over the years, and their explanatation that packet management is vastly improved with SD-WANs appliances controlled by policy and selecting the paths with the least loss.

“The more paths they can choose from, the greater the likelihood of finding a path with the right loss characteristics,” the paper states, then goes on to lay out more of the economics based on the relative simplification of routing on the public Internet vs. MPLS private networks. The paper notes that “several SD-WAN players now offer sub- second failover to preserve session-state. A few go even a step further and duplicate packets across connections. In the event of a failure of the primary connection, packets across the secondary connection still reach the destination.”

While the customer for this particular case study was not as focused on security as some enterprises are, the paper points out that “Across the Internet, of course, encryption is a requirement and every SD-WAN provider that we know today builds their SD-WAN fabric from encrypted tunnels.”

Here at NetFoundry we ascribe to a similar view of the value of SD-WANS and are helping to extend the SD-WAN offerings of market leaders in the space. Where we extend the thinking is adding more automation, more tools that make it possible to spin-up private networks leveraging the public Internet with software that enables provisioning a full network across multiple geographies as easily as VMs are spun up today.

Developers love it. No need to wait for an MPLS network to be created, not need for the time consuming, often complex task of network engineering and the usual IT red tape.

Our platform brings all the benefits of SD-WANs and none of the baggage of MPLS and other prive network technologies directly to the DevOps team, helping them and the IT groups ensure business applications developers have the secure, reliable, cost-efficient, “pay as you go” network services needed through the entire lifecycle, from development and testing through implementation and management. These AppWANS, which we have created for instant connectivity for such popular appplications as Microsoft Office 365, IBM Watson and Salesforce.com, delivers all the benefits of SD-WANs and more.

More what? Ease of use, process efficiency, security, resiliency only the Internet can deliver with all it’s many routes and unmatched diversity — and performance.

Better what? Economics including value derived by no big up-front capex required, as our network services are available as opex in a unique usage model.

You can access the full SD-WAN vs MPLS report here.