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Software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) separates applications from network, opening up a wide new range of possible ways to assemble the network.


  • Depending on the source, enterprises will hear different sets of messages about the challenge of moving to SD-WAN and dropping some or all of their MPLS VPN in favor of internet VPN.
  • It is true that many enterprises could use SD-WAN as a tool to exit MPLS VPN completely and move entirely to all-internet VPN. That is, provided the enterprise assesses its needs and new configuration accurately and does not make oversights or mistakes in the transition.

Features and Benefits

  • Understand whether the enterprise is ready for an all-internet transition with SD-WAN, or whether it needs to keep MPLS VPNs.
  • Identify what factors would complicate the move from a MPLS VPN to an all-internet fabric with SD-WAN.
  • Learn some of the unexpected factors in adopting internet VPN with SD-WAN, including security and transition costs.

Key questions answered

  • What circumstances let an enterprise drop its MPLS VPN in the transition to SD-WAN?
  • What factors encourage enterprises to keep some MPLS VPN in place in the transition to SD-WAN?
  • What network profiles are not particularly well suited for a transition to SD-WAN?
  • What are enterprises' motivations and concerns when they consider migrating to SD-WAN?

Table of contents


  • Catalyst
  • Ovum view
  • Key messages


  • Recommendations for enterprises
  • Recommendations for network and cloud providers


  • Network focus vs. consulting focus: different perspectives
  • The go/no-go dividing line to keep MPLS VPN

Factors that keep enterprises on MPLS

  • Configuration purgatory
  • Global traffic jam
  • Tight tolerances for sensitive applications
  • Need for speed

Further implications of SD-WAN migration

  • Cost savings are not the biggest benefit
  • Shift in security profile
  • Broadband surprises
  • Auditing the network architecture


  • Is it time to drop MPLS? For many, not entirely, not yet


  • Methodology
  • Further reading
  • Author