by Erik Knight, CEO of SimpleWAN

Don't be duped by the providers who tell you that SD-WAN and MPLS can co-exist peacefully.If you’ve been paying attention to the way businesses in our industry market themselves, you might’ve noticed some providers of SD-WAN are pitching those services as complementary, rather than competitive. These companies want end-users and managed service providers (MSPs) to believe the two technologies are enjoying more of a marriage than a divorce. But is this truly the case?

In actuality, the concept of an SD-WAN–MPLS marriage is largely inaccurate. Marketers made up this language in an effort to persuade partners and providers to keep existing customers on MPLS systems even as they make the move to SD-WAN solutions. The approach is intended to help MSPs mitigate lost revenue by selling both services, but responsible reps should really know better.

A Moment of Panic

When SD-WAN was created, people were looking for two things. They were looking for faster connections and cheaper solutions. That’s the whole reason SD-WAN was developed. Then, however, it seemed like MSPs were having panic attacks over the likelihood of losing revenue from customers switching from MPLS to SD-WAN.

Consequently, many SD-WAN providers began adopting marketing and service strategies to support the notion that the two technologies can work together well. Not only was SD-WAN not designed to do that, it creates all kinds of problems. We hear all the time about great solutions failing because users trying to commingle them are encountering network nightmares.

As customers continue to demand faster links, more bandwidth and increased flexibility, MSPs who want to save their MPLS revenue are recommending end-users augment — rather than replace — their existing networks with SD-WAN. They’re trying to make it all mesh together, and that’s why SD-WAN is getting a bad rap.

Think of SD-WAN Like a Highway

If you’re an MSP concerned about cannibalizing your revenue by moving customers from MPLS to SD-WAN, think of it this way: SD-WAN is like the Interstate Highway System. Today, we don’t think twice about it; it’s just there, and it’s awesome. Yet when the highways were being built, it was painful for much of the country. It’s the same with SD-WAN. We wouldn’t be able to drive fast cars from state to state without highways. Likewise, MSPs can’t sell next-generation services without first going through this transition.

For companies currently using MPLS and curious about switching to SD-WAN, the comparison still applies. We don’t get around using horses and carriages anymore because there’s a better way. That’s where we are now with MPLS. Some end-users and MSPs insist on using an antiquated system even though it’s going to have a negative impact upon operations. On the other hand, multi-location companies that have already made the move to SD-WAN are enjoying a distinct advantage over those still trying to maintain their MPLS networks.

Change can be challenging for businesses of any size, and it can be tough to plan and roll out a new SD-WAN solution. Yet once a business is up and running with SD-WAN, they’ll be far better off than they were before. If you and your customers are ready to make the switch, contact SimpleWAN today.