Today’s enterprise IT market is transforming at a rapid pace. Following a surge of digital transformation initiatives in recent years, enterprises are now building strategies for continuous transformation into the future. One key area is their underlying network, which directly impacts performance and efficiency.
Enterprises are seeking more agile ways to maintain or even improve control and security across their networks at lower costs. Software-defined wide-area networks (SD WAN) can simplify WAN infrastructures and help businesses to better manage multiple locations and cloud-hosted applications with application-driven security features.
TeleGeography’s WAN Manager Survey found that multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) usage across enterprises dropped by 36% between 2018 and 2021, while SD WAN saw a 25% growth between 2018 and 2020. In 2022, TeleGeography valued the SD WAN market at $3 billion for large multinational enterprises.
This SD WAN growth is only set to continue as enterprises look to modernise and streamline their networks. For some enterprises this might mean adding SD WAN as an overlay to their existing underlay network, while for others, it could mean a complete overhaul of MPLS in favour of SD WAN.
However, the challenge is knowing how to get started with making the move from MPLS to SD WAN. In this blog, we will share helpful advice and insights for enterprises to improve their operations and customer experiences with leading edge technologies such as SD WAN.
The Networking Market by the Numbers
- The SD WAN market is predicted to grow from $3.4 billion in 2022 to $53.8 billion in 2032 at a CAGR of 31.6% (Future Market Insights).
- MPLS usage across enterprises dropped by 36% between 2018 and 2021 (TeleGeography).
- Worldwide end-user spending on public cloud services is set to grow from $494.7 billion in 2022 to almost $600 billion in 2023 (Gartner).
The Limitations of MPLS
MPLS is a common WAN architecture used to connect remote sites and distributed branch offices to a central HQ data centre with low latency for mission-critical applications and services. It works well for remote sites that heavily rely on accessing data and applications from one central location.
However, MPLS alone is unable to keep up with the rise in mobile users, cloud services and applications in today’s complex digital ecosystem. This can cause performance issues, time-consuming and complex network management, and high costs.
MPLS on its own comes with many challenges which can hinder an organisation’s performance and growth:
- Inefficient Cloud and SaaS Performance – When enterprises become more cloud-centric in their operations and services, legacy MPLS can be inefficient due to backhauling traffic to the HQ data centre. This results in higher latencies and lower performance, particularly when the traffic must travel a large distance from its destination back to the centralised hub.
- Poor Visibility & Agility – MPLS on its own provides little to no visibility, control or agility to enterprises, and is unable to respond to network changes in real time. MPLS needs an additional customer-facing monitoring tool for the enterprise to have visibility of application performance. Moreover, deployments can take months to complete. This makes it a very rigid network for scaling and transforming business operations.
- High Costs –. MPLS is more expensive to manage as compared to SD WAN. SD WAN offers a cost-effective operational model as all the traffic to SaaS application can be offloaded at the branch level, reducing the bandwidth required at the HQ data centre.
For enterprises to succeed in today’s cloud-first world, it is vital that they find a networking partner that can review their WAN and provide an agile, high-performance, yet cost-efficient solution.
Addressing Common Challenges with SD WAN
With all the challenges that enterprises face with MPLS, it is critical for network engineers to update their WAN and introduce forward-thinking network architecture like SD WAN.
SD WAN can be layered on top of other types of networks and managed entirely through software. Some key benefits include:
- Enhanced Cloud Capabilities – With SD WAN, you can have direct cloud access at a remote branch, eliminating the need to backhaul traffic to an HQ data centre. Employees can directly access cloud applications regardless of location, without overloading the core network with additional traffic.
- Agility & Scalability – It is easy to increase or decrease bandwidth according to business demands quickly, making SD WAN a much more flexible and scalable option to use.
- Full Visibility & Control – Centralised management enables IT teams to use a single platform to monitor, troubleshoot and optimise performance across the entire enterprise network. This helps to resolve issues more quickly and easily.
- Reduced Costs – According to TeleGeography, switching to SD WAN can cut costs by up to 84%. This is due to SD WAN utilising lower-cost commercially available internet access, making network management considerably cheaper.
- Enhanced Network Security – SD WAN is highly secure by encrypting and tunnelling traffic. It also provides the ability to layer additional firewalls and cloud security options to form an integrated Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) solution. With SD WAN, users, clouds, data centres and applications can be protected by one holistic security policy and set of tools.
How to Successfully Migrate from MPLS to SD WAN
SD WAN can co-exist with MPLS or completely replace it with cost-effective Broadband Internet or Ethernet, with comparable Quality of Service (QoS) but reduced cost and complexity.
However, it is important to have a single service provider that can deliver the underlay service, whether it be MPLS, Ethernet or Internet, as well as the overlay SD WAN. This ensures the enterprise receives a fully managed service, without the hassle of managing multiple service providers.
It’s simple to get started with SD WAN:
- Find your SD WAN provider and together assess your network and needs. At Epsilon, we undertake a network assessment with customers to determine which applications they would like to use SD WAN for, as well as their needs in terms of latency and volume. Don’t worry if you’re not sure, we can help you to decide the best path forward for your unique business needs.
- Understand your existing MPLS contract. The best time to assess whether to make the move to SD WAN is when your existing MPLS contract is close to the end of its term. Otherwise, you run the risk of breaking certain clauses and accruing unexpected charges.
- Now it’s time for your provider to set up your SD WAN. Epsilon supports customers with this set-up, no matter whether it’s being used with Epsilon’s network fabric, or overlayed on the enterprise’s existing network. We provide an end-to-end service for the entire MPLS to SD WAN migration, and setting up the new connections such as Broadband Internet and Ethernet.
- Once it’s set up, SD WAN needs to be tested. At Epsilon we make sure all applications are working with the right QoS, and that the network is correctly priotitising and intelligently routing the right data, to the right place, at the right time.
- After testing, SD WAN can be modified if needed, then deployed. The testing phase helps us to identify any issues or gaps, then modify the network accordingly. Any adjustments can then be re-tested, before rolling out the SD WAN.
- Ongoing management and refinement. With the SD WAN up and running, the last step is ensuring the ongoing management and refinement of the network. At Epsilon, enterprises can either manage the network themselves with self-service, use a co-management model with Epsilon, or use Epsilon’s managed services for round-the-clock proactive monitoring and management from Epsilon’s team of network experts. Epsilon also offer regular Service and technical review to ensure the SD WAN is performing as promised.
Epsilon SD WAN
Epsilon’s SD WAN simplifies and automates the management and operation of your global infrastructure, regardless of your transport fabrics.
Whether it is overlayed on Epsilon’s secure network or your own transport fabrics, our Managed SD WAN monitors the WAN connections and intelligently manages and optimises traffic for greater application performance, security and reliability. You also don’t have to worry about design, configuration or maintenance — we take care of it for you.
Epsilon SD WAN Benefits
- Simplify WAN Management – Get complete visibility and control across disparate networks and multiple locations with a centralised management portal.
- Optimise Application Performance – Prioritise business-critical applications, dynamically route traffic, automatically mitigate performance issues, and deploy app-aware failover to enhance WAN performance and increase WAN availability.
- Accelerate Network Agility – Easily meet the varying demands of your on-premises and cloud workloads with fast and scalable deployments.
- Boost Security – Enjoy a level of security by encrypting and tunnelling traffic to your data, with the ability to layer additional firewalls, and cloud security options to create an integrated solution.
- Simplify Multi-Cloud Architecture – Eliminate backhauling traffic to your HQ with direct cloud access at the remote branches, thereby minimising additional traffic to the core network.
- Reduce WAN Cost – Combine Epsilon’s secure Ethernet, cost-effective Broadband Internet, and direct Cloud Access to create a new software-defined model that simplifies network management and reduces cost.
Quick Case Study: Moving from Legacy MPLS to SD WAN across Asia
Belton Technology Group, a manufacturing company headquartered in Hong Kong with offices across the Asia Pacific, wanted a cost effective, highly available and flexible data communication network between its offices and manufacturing plants across the Asia Pacific to cope with surging business growth.
Epsilon’s SD WAN solution provided Belton Technology with seamless, high-performance connectivity without sacrificing security. It played a pivotal role in the transformation of Belton Technology’s geographically dispersed operations by lowering capital and operational costs, enhancing cloud connectivity, and providing the best experience for employees and customers alike.
”We chose Epsilon because its SD WAN solution met our needs from the start. We needed to expand into new locations seamlessly while maintaining high performance connectivity between our manufacturing plants and offices in mainland China, Hong Kong, Thailand and the Philippines. We’re excited to see where our relationship with Epsilon will go as we continue to grow our footprint. The team recognised how we could improve and quickly deployed the right solutions, as well as providing support throughout the entire process.”
– Clement Luk, IT Manager, Belton Technology Group
Benefits for Belton Technology Group
- Speed of Deployment – Belton Technology reduced its time to market with our plug and play deployment model, and could quickly meet customer demands.
- Visibility & Control – Attain the essential control, insights and intelligence needed to optimise connectivity performance between manufacturing sites, enhancing the overall customer experience.
- Comprehensive Solution – Enable Belton Technology to utilise a centrally managed platform with improved connectivity and security features, including access to hundreds of points of presence and cloud providers.
- Trusted Partner – Access to highly trusted services and a partner committed to operational excellence, proven by Epsilon’s 2022 Net Promoter Score of 57.
Transform Your Future with SD WAN
Intelligent WAN solutions allow today’s geographically dispersed enterprises to realise the transformation promise of cloud computing, as well as lowering capital and operational costs and providing huge performance increases without sacrificing security.
SD WAN can help enterprises to move at the speed of today’s cloud-first ecosystem, without legacy networking models holding them back. The right solution will enable enterprises to maximise the value of their cloud and digital investments with a modern and agile WAN architecture.
Get in touch today to learn how Epsilon SD WAN can help you to securely scale your WAN with new speed and agility, so you can amplify your network and reach new levels of growth.