SD-WAN VS MPLS And Which One Is Better?


Every day, businesses are becoming more globalized. The critical business traffic is increasingly routed around the offices by acquiring completely unacceptable packet loss. The network architecture which was built a way back is now no longer accepted by the global businesses. To meet the requirements of global enterprises, it is crucial to evolve network architecture. And this is where MPLS and SD-WAN come into the picture.

Though both possess unique advantages, to judge which one is potentially more beneficial to your organization usually puts you in a dilemma. To get the answer, we have come up with the major differences between both of them, that will further help to decide the best network to run your enterprise applications.

1. Cost

A small scale business or company always looks to cut down unnecessary cost, and for that purpose, SD-WAN will be the most appropriate choice. MPLS offers separate connections and transmits internet traffic to data from where it is processed and retransmitted. Hence, this process requires additional costs in businesses. On the other hand, SD-WAN transmits traffic with the help of a cloud and, in turn, provides connectivity to the users regardless of their location. By employing the varied connections including LTE, 4G and 5G, costs are reduced than for a single carrier MPLS network.

2.  Security

Till now, MPLS has been the most secure network solution for businesses as it sends the packets between the source and the data centre via a managed secure link. However, when it becomes important to save the network, then malware and firewall security devices are needed in addition to protecting the MPLS connection. 

SD-WAN integrates end to end encryption around the entire network and provides secure traffic on the internet and cloud. SD-WAN network connections are treated securely by experts and businesses, but its broadband routers along with the public internet ensure a high risk to your network unless they are secured as part of the SD-WAN.

3. Performance & Flexibility

In the case of MPLS, your network is bounded to a fixed bandwidth. It means that your business or company will have to calculate the required bandwidth to run the company efficiently. On the other hand, SD-WAN provides a flexible bandwidth due to its several connections. Thus, SD-WAN is the best option for businesses that have unpredictable or rapid growth due to its scalability. A company that has stagnant and steady growth may not need this flexibility and for them, MPLS might be a great option to go for. 

The location of your company is also a huge factor. MPLS provides lower optimal performance in a region where a network is not available. SD-WAN networks are reliable and, in turn, provide high-performance, no matter where you are located. Hence it makes a great choice for companies who want more flexibility in connecting to remote networks.

If your company runs several real-time apps over the WAN, such as remote desktops, video conferencing, phone calls or remote desktops, although MPLS may be a better option.


When it comes to flexibility, security, agility and cost, SD-Wan is a worthy winner and is currently becoming a preferred choice for many organizations. However, the companies that aim more towards security over cost and performance, for them MPLS might be the best choice for the network. However, as SD-WAN advances and evolves, we think MPLS usage is time-limited.

In a nutshell, the better network depends on what your organization is looking for and would recommend they look at SASE from CATO.

Download our CATO SASE white Paper Download

Matt is a global CISO with 20+ Years of Directing International Security Programmes for Multi-Billion Pound Organisations. With a passion for security and a cybersecurity evangelist.

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