Oh, the ‘80s … what a time to be alive. Tube socks. The walkman. And who can forget the adorable (and slightly disturbing) Teddy Ruxpin. But is there anything that defines a decade more than its haircuts? The 80s, certainly had its fair share of winners including:  

The Mullet

The Big Hair

The Flattop (with a side of mullet)

While most of these amazing ‘dos came and went, every so often you spot someone holding on to the classic ‘80s rattail that they have been sporting for the last 35 years and think to yourself, “Impressive! But maybe it’s time for a change.”  Change is hard though … for haircuts and technology.  

We like to hold on to the things of the past. We know how they work. They are predictable. Not to mention that change = work. Herein lies the challenge with the evolution of SD-WAN replacing the battle-tested MPLS.  

First, know this:  MPLS is not analogous to the rattail haircut, we just really, really wanted to use that reference in an article. The majority of enterprises still use MPLS, and some sources even say that number is still growing by 2-5%. It has and will continue to have an important role in the enterprise network for at least the next decade. Let’s consider two examples:

1. An enterprise where voice and video is mission critical. SD-WAN often uses public internet to connect to sites, which introduces increased packet-loss, latency and jitter. Using a private network, MPLS is the fastest data carrying technique available and is deterministic

2. An enterprise with a majority of applications still in the data center where security is paramount. This is sometimes the case in highly regulated or compliance driven enterprises.

However, the challenge with MPLS for digitally transforming organizations is threefold:  MPLS is expensive, its capabilities are limited, and applications are rapidly moving to the cloud. While a complete replacement of MPLS is often not feasible, a phased, hybrid approach is a common path to success.  In Apcela’s recent survey, 66% of respondents say their ideal future network state combines centralized data centers with distributed infrastructure. There are still (a lot of) apps that live in the data center and a network approach that leverages the benefits of both MPLS with SD-WAN is ideal.  

At some point, we’ll look back on the MPLS as the Flock of Seagulls of network routing. We’re not there quite yet but it may be time to a consult with your local barber (or network experts) to explore some new styles.  

We love talking about networks so please give us a call or send a note if you want to chat. 

To learn more, watch our on-demand webinar:

To learn more about the differences between MPLS and SDWAN, and get to know the right network architecture for you, watch our Apcela Talks webinar “MPLS in the Age of Software-Defined WAN”.

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