While traditional MPLS has its place, other technologies have emerged – and many are superior choices. MPLS is an older technology and it’s not cheap. Some of the alternatives improve performance without hardware or bandwidth investments

Why Move Away from MPLS?

In short, it’s expensive, and it doesn’t work very well when large distances are involved.

Meanwhile, other options are available including:

  • T1 Link Bonding – T1 link bonding takes bandwidth from multiple circuits (each of which must be a same-speed T1 link from the same service provider) and combines them into a single high-speed connection. Though T1 link bonding has been a common means of alleviating congestion, the throughput speed isn’t quite fast enough to keep up with today’s cloud computing requirements.
  • IPSec VPN – Creating a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is another option. With an IPSec VPN, traffic is routed through a private, encrypted network over the public Internet. While the traffic is separated and secure, it is subjected to issues that plague the public Internet such as latency and congestion. Application performance could suffer despite the private transport mechanism.
  • WAN Link Balancing – Another alternative is known as WAN link balancing. This method involves adding more connections in order to increase bandwidth. In other words, if your network lags because there’s not enough bandwidth, add more. It’s a bit more sophisticated than that, and it does involve adding network appliances on each end. Unlike T1 link bonding, this method accepts diverse connection types from a variety of service providers. Loads can be balanced over these links based on predetermined routing rules. However, these rules don’t account for changes in network conditions, and it’s not unusual for bandwidth to go underutilized. Another method, WAN aggregation, overcomes those shortcomings by aggregating packets and combining the diverse bandwidth sources into one larger “pipe.”
  • WAN Acceleration – WAN acceleration uses WAN optimization appliances and file compression to reduce bandwidth consumption. Though optimization can result in improved performance, hardware is required – and there’s only so much bandwidth you can squeeze through a given link.
  • WAN Optimization as a Service – A new alternative turns WAN optimization into a service, bringing with it the ease and cost advantages of other “as a service” models. According to one WAN Optimization as a Service provider, “WAN Optimization as a Service packages a dedicated core network based on globally distributed POPs, with our cloud-based WAN Optimization technology. So, you get reliability and stable, predictable latency across the globe, combined with the significant application performance benefits that WAN Optimization delivers.”

Are you still relying on expensive MPLS solutions? It may be time to switch to a more efficient and cost-effective WAN service.

Works Cited:

  1. Skyway West, “Going Beyond MPLS: The Limits of WAN Optimization,”http://blog.skywaywest.com/2015/01/going-beyond-mpls-limits-wan-optimization/ 
  1. Aryaka, “Aryaka vs. MPLS,”http://www.aryaka.com/why-aryaka/7-reasons-to-buy-aryaka/