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My MPLS service contract expires soon -- should I renew?

The rise of SD-WAN has many asking: Do we really need MPLS connectivity? Expert John Burke explains what factors to consider before renewing your existing contract.

As you consider whether to renew your existing MPLS service contract -- and for how long -- you need to have your eyes on everything from price to speed of deployment.

In a nutshell, if you haven’t already got some experience with software-defined WAN technologies -- using broadband alongside or instead of MPLS service -- you are not ready to go cold turkey in the next few months. Unless your network is small and simple, it’s "cap-and-trade" time -- you should be thinking of capping your MPLS spend and trading broadband for MPLS selectively. Build a plan for transitioning sites to broadband or hybrid connectivity based on cost, capacity and risk. You can then learn the ins and outs of using broadband to supplement MPLS connectivity (for medium-risk or high-demand sites) as well as to replace it (for low-risk sites). You can also develop expertise in using SD-WAN to simplify design and operation of a hybrid, virtualized WAN, and make sure both network operations center and security operations center are able to do and see what they need to. Next time around you can consider dropping MPLS altogether.

If you have some experience already with operating a hybrid WAN, or your WAN is small and simple, it is a good time to look hard at dropping MPLS service. Experienced SD-WAN users can now make a well-informed judgment as to whether they can meet and exceed their current service level agreements without MPLS service, and with their current SD-WAN platform. Novices with small networks have time to try SD-WAN, and then experiment with dropping MPLS connectivity from the link pool without actually discontinuing service until they are confident. 

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