One IT Services has several solutions that can be used to link all of your business’s sites together into a wide-area-network (WAN). This is a private and secure network that allows your staff to collaborate using internal systems over long distances. Three of the most common technologies are MPLS, SD-WAN and VPN’s. Which is the best? The answer is: It depends on your use case!

MPLS, or Multi Protocol Label Switching is a networking technology managed by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to link several of offices together with service level agreements and consistent high quality performance. MPLS typically runs over the ISP’s own infrastructure where quality can be guaranteed and uncontested bandwidth can be allocated. MPLS outperforms all other options in every case as all the technology used by SD-WAN can also be applied to MPLS. When it comes to services that rely on consistent bandwidth and latency like VoIP, Remote Desktop and Video Conferencing, MPLS should be the first option.

SD-WAN, or Software Defined Wide Area Network, is a type of service that is sold as a hardware appliance. Each site in the WAN needs the same SD-WAN hardware device so that they can link over the internet using VPNs. SD-WAN uses the public Internet for connectivity and so is subject to performance gains and losses as the ISP networks change over time. There is no guaranteed performance, bandwidth or latency between the sites connected. SD-WAN uses techniques such as dynamic routing and QoS over multiple internet services (e.g. NBN and 4G) to provide resiliency and traffic prioritisation to the WAN.

As an alternative to MPLS and SD-WAN, VPNs can be used to provide a cost-effective WAN solution over the public Internet. VPN’s are subject to the same performance issues as SD-WAN but come in at a much lower cost. All the technology that goes into the SD-WAN hardware appliances can be delivered as a VPN service, and is typically more hardware-agnostic. They are, however, not as robust when it comes to security or quality assurance.

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