SD-WAN takes advantage of the 100x MPLS/Internet price gap

You can bridge that chasm without worrying about the downsides of inferior Internet reliability and predictability

This vendor-written tech primer has been edited by Network World to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favor the submitter’s approach.

Everyone is generally aware that MPLS is expensive compared to Internet connectivity (check out “Why MPLS is so expensive”), but are you aware exactly how enormous the difference is? Even with MPLS prices coming down, the precipitous drop in Internet prices has made the gap larger. 

A few years ago MPLS typically cost $300-$600 per Mbps per month for the copper connectivity (i.e. n x T1/E1) typically deployed at all but the largest enterprise locations, while today in most of North America and much of Europe a more typical range is $100 - $300 per Mbps per month.

Meanwhile, the monthly price of broadband connectivity like FIOS, cable or xDSL dropped from $5-$15 per Mbps per month range to $1 or $2 per Mbps per month.  Monthly minimum bandwidth plans might no longer be going down in price, but available bandwidth continues to increase, and the price/bit continues to improve at Moore’s Law-type rates.

For example, high bandwidth cable modem-based Internet  connections are available from Comcast Business Internet for $1.67 - $4 per Mbps per month, while business pricing forVerizon FiOS is $0.73 - $2per Mbps per month. Even using the relatively low-end estimate of $100 per Mbps per month for MPLS compared to Verizon’s best bandwidth pricing is a factor of 137x.  Compared to the higher-end $300 per Mbps figure shows a price/performance factor of over 400x!

Typically these days, most people will see a range of ~50x – 150x as the price/bit superiority for Internet connectivity compared to MPLS.  There are very few areas in technology where IT is seeing order-of-magnitude gains, yet with SD-WANs, enterprises can actually get literally two order-of-magnitude benefits.

The newer area of price/bit benefits from SD-WANs and Internet connectivity is at the data center.  Here I’m speaking primarily about leveraging data centers located at carrier-neutral colocation facilities run by companies like Equinix, Interxion, and Telehouse.

It is worth noting that pricing for fiber-based connectivity at customer premises, for both MPLS and Internet connections a) varies widely depending on location and fiber access to the building, and the local competitive structure of service providers, and b) is fairly opaque.

Finding two different providers – critical for high availability at a data center – can sometimes be problematic.  But it’s probably fair to say that at customer premise-based data centers, traditional Internet connectivity might only offer a 2x – 4x price/bit benefit over MPLS, with prices for many connections being in the ~$10 - ~$60 per Mbps per month range.

At colo facilities, while MPLS pricing tends to be similar to what you can get at your own data center, Internet monthly pricing is usually below $1 per Mbps if you’re buying bandwidth in large amounts. 

This means that at colo facilities, the price/bit benefits are typically in the 10x – 50x range.  This order-of-magnitude advantage is substantial, and can be important when large amounts of bandwidth are needed to aggregate connectivity from a large number of branch sites.

While relatively few enterprises have moved data centers to such colocation facilities to-date, those planning to retain centralized network security or migrate to more SaaS and hybrid/public cloud computing, would do well to evaluate such options.  Besides offering substantial benefits in terms of bandwidth availability and cost/bit, you can also improve application performance and performance predictability for cloud-based apps.

In the pre-2014 era of thin MPLS pipes at the branch, the approximately 2x effective price/bit benefits of WAN optimization technologies was a pretty big deal. Today, however, failsafe SD-WANs allow enterprises to take advantage of the enormous bandwidth and the 100x price/bit benefit offered by public Internet connectivity.

Talari Networks, the trusted SD-WAN technology market leader, engineers the internet and branch for maximum business impact by designing fail-safe WANs that deliver superior business-critical application reliability and resiliency, while unlocking the simplification and cost reduction benefits of branch consolidation.

To learn more visit


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