SD-WAN Roundup: M&A, Security and the Death of MPLS

James Anderson

James Anderson

**Editor’s Note: This is the latest in a series of articles on the state of SD-WAN, featuring perspectives from vendors and analysts. Check out our previous SD-WAN roundup featuring Bigleaf Networks and BlueAlly.**

Matthew Toth wants to retire a four-letter word.


The founder and lead consultant of Collaborative Communications Consulting (C3) says vendors are split on the future that Multiprotocol Layer Switching (MPLS) networks have with SD-WAN. Should SD-WAN augment MPLS? Is MPLS destined for a slow fade-out?

C3's Matthew Toth

C3’s Matthew Toth

As Toth advises business customers about their networks, his take on MPLS is clear: The writing is on the wall for the transport method.

“For my customers, the death of MPLS started yesterday,” Toth told Channel Partners. “Not a year from now, not two years from now; it started yesterday.”

Toth says his Michigan-based business consults a large number of MPLS customers that would like to try SD-WAN, and many of those companies want to marry the two technologies. He attributes this desire to “elongate the life of MPLS” to many of the companies that are launching SD-WAN offerings.

“For the life of me, I can’t figure out – other than the perpetuation of the technology by vendors – why companies should stay with [MPLS],” he said.

Yes, there can be synergy between the two technologies. SD-WAN can work with MPLS, but Toth says SD-WAN is ultimately a replacement. He says the burgeoning new technology eliminates more than 80 percent of MPLS needs. Last year he laid out 12 reasons why customers should be thinking replacement and not augmentation.

“But you’re not seeing that. It’s like Verizon and Windstream and all these big guys are trying so hard to take that asset that’s already sitting in data centers around the world and milk it for every dollar. And for the most part, it’s not needed. It really isn’t,” Toth said.

Cato's Shlomo Kramer

Cato’s Shlomo Kramer

Many companies have made serious investments in MPLS over the years, and it’s hard to blame them. Toth says partners are earning 95 percent margins on port maintenance — “making money hand over fist,” as he puts it.

Cato Networks CEO Shlomo Kramer agrees that many service providers are trying to hold onto MPLS. There’s $60 billion of revenue in the technology by his count. But he says customers don’t have the same desire.

“Folks want to get off MPLS,” Kramer told Channel Partners. “Quite frankly, when you talk to everybody, long-term they want to replace MPLS, because this is not the fabric that is right for the cloud and mobile area for the future. It’s very rigid, very geography-bound — very. It’s low-capacity and high-priced.”

Kramer describes the carrier SD-WAN method as “bypass surgery” typically driven by …

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