Graphiant Assesses MPLS, SD-WAN, and the Connectivity Needs of Modern Enterprises

By Alex Passett, Editor  |  July 24, 2023

Let’s briefly imagine networks as ever-busy highway systems, with MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) and SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Networking) both playing the part of trucks that are old, but reliable. Per the metaphor, these “trucks” historically are what we’ve used to ensure efficient and secure transport of data across systems.

For quite a while, these “trucks” performed well. Very little question there. But it’s 2023, and highways (i.e. our networks) are changing. They’ve become more congested, with applications and devices’ numbers increasing at exponential rates. What gave rise to the Internet of Things (IoT) and the push towards digital transformations is, as we now see, changing approaches to smart technologies and how data is being transmitted.

Again, take MPLS, for example. The MPLS “trucks” have driven on what has essentially been a dedicated lane on this highway; data there once moved speedily and reliably. That is, until costs to use this lane shot up (among other factors). Trek back a decade ago, and there was a 2013 Gartner (News - Alert) report that posed the question Is MPLS Dead?; the long-story-short of that was “Not yet, but it is gradually dying.” Gartner suggests that MPLS is only forecasted to grow 6.7% through 2028, which doesn’t exactly suggest a record boost in numbers, to say the least. After all, MPLS – designed back in the late 1990s –  was utilized when networks were simpler, workloads were well-known, and these highways weren’t as congested. They were more predictable.

Now, the 2023 landscape of enterprise networks has expanded; it spans across data centers, corporate offices, vast multi-cloud environments, and edge networks. There’s been a noted lack of ability, architectural shortcomings and, as mentioned, higher costs with modern MPLS.

Then, SD-WAN. Did it miss the mark? Yes, as many believe. SD-WAN, as Gartner wrote, “emerged as the heir apparent to MPLS, promising to fix MPLS’s costs and agility issues with a software-designed approach.” But still, it couldn’t keep pace. The overwhelming overhead of setup and management drew away from SD-WAN’s initial elegance. And, as the edge of the network has become more complex and crowded (and as types and demands of devices proliferate), the older “trucks” on today’s network “highways” seem to be struggling to keep up.

In this collective vein, there’s Graphiant. Graphiant, provider of next-gen edge services, recognizes that connectivity solutions like MPLS and SD-WAN are lagging behind in today’s dynamic, distributed hybrid world.

“This happens every 10-12 years,” stated Khalid Raza, founder & CEO of Graphiant. "I saw this in 2000 while pioneering MPLS at Cisco (News - Alert). I saw it when I co-founded Viptela in 2012. And now, it’s time again for a new approach to the network edge.”

Recently, Graphiant released the results of its “2023 State of Network Edge” survey. Its respondents called out three quintessential observations:

  1. Enterprise connectivity has morphed full industries, especially with the surge of remote workers, remote offices, and IoT.
  2. Cloud connectivity better stretches enterprises’ capabilities.
  3. The trend of an everything-digitized service economy is pushing organizations to connect more often with customers and partners alike.

Moreover, network architects that responded to Graphiant’s survey graded both MPLS and SD-WAN with D’s and F’s for new cases when assessing modern scalability, agility, and cost.

So, what can be done? Well for one, Graphiant offers a new service that provides speed, security, and tools for modernized scalability. It also provides the privacy of MPLS, but with the added benefits that as-a-Service offerings deliver.

But are enterprises ready for such extensive Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) transitions? In Graphiant’s survey, there was a resounding “Yes.” since 87.5% of the network architects claimed they’d seriously consider NaaS in the coming years.

Ultimately, change – in any aspect of life – is never a precise, static science. We’ll have to see how things shift.

In the meantime, the full survey with Graphiant’s valuable insights can be downloaded here.

Edited by Greg Tavarez
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