MPLS is entering its sunset, and yet telcos aren’t ready to let you go. Rather than see you invest a few more years in a legacy technology that needs to be retrofitted with WAN Optimization, SD-WAN, and more, we held a webinar to discuss your alternatives.

We were joined by Jim Metzler, Founder and Vice President of Ashton, Metzler, and Associates, along with Yohan Beghein, System Integration Manager at Skullcandy, to discuss how network admins like you can optimize the enterprise WAN without turning back to MPLS.

Here are the key takeaways from the webinar. You can access the complete webinar here.


One of the biggest concerns for any IT team can be summed up in one single image, as shown in the diagram above. The happy days of a simplified, traditional “hub and spoke” model of branch office connectivity (shown on the left) are, unfortunately, over. The current IT landscape is more complex than ever, and IT teams find themselves responsible for not just the users at branch offices, but also an influx of remote users, an eclectic mix of applications and delivery models (both on-premise and Cloud/SaaS applications), and myriad devices.

Metzler described how most of his clients are facing intensified global pressure from organizations whose business models now completely rely on IT to gain a competitive edge, capture new markets quickly, and provide customers with fast and reliable service. The CIOs are expected to deliver these results while dealing with a lack of IT resources and keeping costs low.

As the IT landscape becomes more complex and the cost and time taken to run and maintain the systems skyrockets, this snowballs into a mammoth task for the IT leaders and their teams.

It is then of little surprise that when Metzler polled the webinar attendees about the top factors that will drive changes in the enterprise WAN, a staggering 47% chose the “need to reduce cost” as a primary driver. An additional 29% chose “increasing security and improving performance for real time applications,” and 26% and 24% chose “better access to cloud” and “increasing availability” respectively.


One of the fundamental problems in the enterprise WAN space today is that, while IT and business have undergone a 180-degree change in the last two decades, there has been negligible innovation in the networking fundamentals. As a result, 66% of IT executives today are not/or only moderately happy with their WAN architecture, as Metzler explained.

MPLS made a massive commercial debut in the early 2000s and became the gold standard for connectivity. The problem is that MPLS was not built to handle the cloud intensive, demanding workloads of today.

While MPLS did its fair bit in providing a reliable connectivity to global enterprises, it is clear now that it can hardly match up to the current connectivity demands.

For example, MPLS is slow to deploy, as it can take months or even years to set up a new link. The results of another poll during the webinar confirmed that this is a top concern for IT executives.

The poll also revealed that complexity and accessing cloud and SaaS applications were the second and third concerns on IT executives’ minds regarding MPLS. All of these concerns can be addressed by bypassing MPLS and using the public Internet, but the Internet cannot be trusted for critical enterprise traffic due to high latency, congestion, and security concerns.

In a world where most global organizations are adopting a cloud-first approach, MPLS is poised to become irrelevant soon. The reasons are manifold: few cloud/SaaS vendors have MPLS connectivity options and most MPLS vendors do not own cloud/SaaS vendor infrastructure or provide support for applications hosted in the cloud.

Most global companies today are feeling the pressure to find a suitable alternative to MPLS and the Internet. What they need is an enterprise-grade connectivity solution that is intelligent, secure, quick to deploy, cloud-ready, and cost effective.


To emphasize the importance of rethinking the WAN strategy and the benefits it can bring to the enterprise, Metzler then invited Yohan Beghein, System Integration Manager at Skullcandy to share a case study. Beghein discussed how Skullcandy, one of the global brand names for high-quality headphones, earphones, Bluetooth speakers, and related accessories, replaced their MPLS circuits with Aryaka’s global SD-WAN to connect offices in the United States, Canada, Germany, China, and Japan.

Beghien explained how Skullcandy was facing a challenge that many organizations across the world deal with: a spike in enterprise bandwidth requirements during the winter holiday season. The company was facing latency and application performance issues over MPLS in Germany, China, and Japan. Executive teams across different regions around the world could not collaborate effectively, as their telepresence solution was unable to keep up with the high latencies. Moreover, MPLS bandwidth was prohibitively expensive, and it took “forever” to scale up or down.

Skullcandy realized that they needed to move beyond the conventional solutions to a more flexible and reliable connectivity solution. By choosing a cloud-ready SD-WAN solution, Skullcandy could achieve up to 10x better application performance improvement, 93% data reduction across all applications, and about 40 Mbps peak bandwidth savings. Read the full Skullcandy case study to learn more.


In recent years, SD-WAN emerged as the saving grace for most enterprises grappling with connectivity issues. However, not all SD-WANs can provide a complete replacement for MPLS.

When evaluating SD-WANs, you should look for a holistic solution that provides:

Short deployment intervals

Alternatives to MPLS pricing without sacrificing QoS or security

End-to-end multi-layered security functionality

Built-in WAN Optimization

Secure, high-performance access to cloud applications and services

End-to-end visibility and holistic control of the entire network

Reduced complexity

Managed service option

Metzler ended the webinar with a call to action for global enterprises struggling with connectivity issues: He suggested that companies need to start evaluating and write down the key challenges that might mean it’s time to re-evaluate the enterprise WAN. CIOs and IT leaders need to start weighing out alternative WAN solutions with a focus on whether their solution can truly respond to those key challenges and support their global operations. Most IT teams need a solution that can help them reduce or avoid complexity and relieve the team by providing support in the form of managed services.


If the enterprise WAN is like a fabric, stitched together with hardware, software, and the human resources who maintain it, it’s possible that the advent of the cloud has created a large hole. Is there a tear in your network fabric?


For years, the enterprise WAN was composed of interconnecting links and pipes, most usually through MPLS.

With MPLS, an application or data housed in the company’s headquarters or data center could travel to a branch office with little to no problem, barring long delays for deployment and scaling and potential latency over long distances.

Though creating a global network quilt was a little DIY, requiring IT to stitch together contracts from multiple vendors around the world, the coverage worked for enterprises’ needs at the time.

But in today’s cloud-first business environment, where work is increasingly mobile and globalized, an MPLS-based WAN is missing major threads.

MPLS is point-to-point, which means that it cannot reach the cloud without workarounds and extra hardware and/or software. And connecting to the cloud via the public Internet introduces latency, packet loss, and jitter, as well as security issues – all situations that MPLS was supposed to correct for. That means the performance of mission- and business-critical applications suffer on an MPLS-based enterprise WAN.

For the same reasons, MPLS is not optimized for the remote and mobile workforce. When workers leave branch offices to complete tasks – such as salespeople working on the go or developers working from home – MPLS networks can’t reach them. That means IT must make an investment in VPN or other secure mobile networks. In addition, branch offices in developing or remote areas may not even be accessible by MPLS, requiring similar add-ons.


For many network providers today, the solution to the “missing threads” is to pile on hardware and software at the edge. Unfortunately, this creates frayed edges in the network fabric. SD-WAN is useful for connecting to the cloud; however, when placed at the edge, it only solves for problems at the edge.

And if the entire fabric is missing a thread, adding a small bit at the edge doesn’t make up for the instability throughout the rest of the network.

SD-WAN that relies on the public Internet to connect users to mission- and business-critical applications is SD-WAN without an optimized middle mile. The public Internet is subject to disruption, and because it’s a public WAN, it is unpredictable in its disruptions. In addition, for global businesses, latency gets worse as distances between users and data increase. So even if SD-WAN improves connectivity at the edge, business users are still subject to slow connections and poor application performance.

What enterprises need to make sure you have in the right application delivery is a fabric that comes with it’s own thread.


Aryaka’s global SD-WAN is just such a thread. Rather than optimizing an old technology that can’t keep up with changing business needs or relying on the public Internet for connectivity, Aryaka’s SmartCONNECT is the network fabric.

Using a purpose-built, enterprise-grade global private network, Aryaka has abstracted connectivity to 28 POPs around the world, all within 30 ms of 95% of the world’s business users. Those POPs connect to Aryaka’s network access points, giving your enterprise users an easy way to hop onto the network from anywhere they do business.

It also contains built-in SD-WAN to reduce complexity and cost, along with WAN Optimization layered on top of the network to increase application performance for end users around the globe.

This secure network is therefore not subject to disruption like the public Internet, nor is it expensive, difficult, and time-consuming to deploy. Instead, it provides accelerated access to every SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS platform with the privacy and stability you would expect from an enterprise network. Aryaka provides simple and quick deployment with on-demand scalability for faster project implementation – all you need is a few days (or even hours), and the network can be set up or scaled anywhere in the world.