IDG Contributor Network: Carrier SD-WAN: SD-WAN should be more than just an MPLS complement

Is it only me who finds it just a bit dubious that carriers are advocating SD-WAN? SD-WAN was practically invented to get away from the clutches of carriers, and now we’re supposed to trust them to be the stewards of WAN transformation?

Carriers lost that privilege when their business model grew out-of-step with how we do business. We grew tired of being charged double Internet prices for MPLS capacity. In an era of self-service, carriers were still making us wait to troubleshoot problems. And we were astonished that new MPLS circuits could take weeks, even months, to bring into a new site when you could often get started with broadband in a matter of days and upgrade to DIA when ready.

Carriers seem to look at SD-WAN as just another tool for keeping customers on MPLS. As Shawn Hakl, senior vice president of business products at Verizon, noted in this interview, customers aren’t replacing MPLS with Internet, they’re adding SD-WAN: “What we see is a lot of MPLS plus LTE backup,” he told SDXCentral.

It makes sense. After all, the revenue carriers see from an SD-WAN-over-the-Internet contract is a fraction of an MPLS deal. That’s usually a big disincentive for delivering SD-WAN without MPLS.