Why MPLS Just Doesn’t Cut It Anymore

Businesses today are built on collaboration, and with the upsurge in outsourcing in recent years, many large and mid-sized companies are setting up office locations in emerging economies like China, India and Brazil. It’s an enormous opportunity, yet staying connected with these remote locations is critical. The Internet has enabled businesses to connect with overseas branches, employees, and partners . . . sort of.

The Internet is anything, but enterprise grade. Regional Internet quality and speeds have improved significantly over the past few years, yet latency and congestion-based packet loss are major challenges when it comes to data crossing oceans. Additionally, much like the comments you find on YouTube, the rest of the internet is unintelligent too, which means we’re unable to control QoS.

Until recently, MPLS has been the enterprises’ answer to the distance (and QoS) problem. Back in the late 1990s, it was a revolutionary piece of technology. For the first time in networking history, businesses had access to enterprise-grade connectivity between their global offices.

MPLS providers still serve a $30 billion and growing market today, but businesses are slowly learning the fact that this legacy technology was not built for our cloud, mobile, and social age. MPLS is outdated, expensive, slow to deploy, and unaffordable for smaller companies and even smaller offices within large enterprises. MPLS bandwidth tends to also be prohibitively expensive in remote locations.

Further, the massive adoption of enterprise cloud services and applications – which often runs parallel to another important and related trend: mobility – is disrupting the networking status quo. Traditional architectures are proving inefficient for the enterprise as the importance of site-to-site traffic is giving way to any-to-any data center, branch, cloud, remote, and distributed collaboration.

As a result, CIOs are actively investigating hybrid WAN initiatives with their teams. With SaaS adoption reaching near ubiquity, and with tons of vendors offering enterprise cloud-based applications, including CRM, ERP, and BI solutions, network managers are facing a whole new set of challenges. Since the access medium to all these cloud services is primarily the public Internet, application performance takes an obvious hit. And MPLS cannot help.

How the Next Generation Network needs to be

What cloud-enabled, global businesses need and want is an infrastructure suited to today’s challenges. They need a network that is global, agile, optimized, secure, and on-demand. Rapid deployment and flexibility are no longer nice-to-haves, they are must-haves. Built-in optimization is required to induce bandwidth savings. Guaranteed application performance is mandatory to support enterprise productivity needs and enhance end user experience.

Thus, the next generation WAN needs to combine the power of WAN acceleration, QoS, ADCs, analytics, and management software. It needs to eliminate the need to deploy piecemeal solutions like long-haul private MPLS links or costly WAN appliances; and it needs to integrate neatly into the broadband connections that feed the insatiable demand for bandwidth of today’s enterprise.

What do you think will replace MPLS technology in the future?