However, one panelist said MPLS replacement is his company's No. 1 use case.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

November 5, 2021

3 Min Read
SD-WAN Thunderdome CP Expo 2021

Despite contrary opinions, SD-WAN isn’t replacing MPLS anytime soon and MPLS is actually still growing.

That’s according to most of a panel of top SD-WAN suppliers who participated in this week’s SD-WAN Thunderdome at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo. Matthew Toth, founder/president of C3 Technology Advisors, moderated the panel.

The panelists included:

  • Matt Douglass, CBTS‘s senior director of solution engineering.

  • Bryn Norton, Lumen Technologies‘ vice president of IT solutions sales.

  • Mike Wood, Versa Networks‘ chief marketing officer.

  • Ryan Livesay, Aryaka‘s senior vice president of strategic sales and engineering.



Matthew Toth

Toth said he’s surprised that, when asked about SD-WAN versus MPLS, there are still supporters of MPLS.

“I thought that had died a death or was on life support,” he said. “But some of these guys think there are still scenarios where that could be useful.”

Many enterprises are resistant to change and have heavily invested in MPLS over the years.

“And it takes some years to roll out the technology itself,” added Toth. “So I think it’s going to be around for awhile. I think it’s going to be a slow, trickle down to nothing. But for some of those enterprise organizations that are resistant to change, it could be around for a bit.”

Norton said there are still customers who will buy MPLS and layer SD-WAN on top of it. Douglass also said it’s an “emotional decision,” and it’s not possible to convince everyone to move away from MPLS.

Wood said many service providers Versa works with made major investments in networks, and MPLS is working really well for them. Moreover, MPLS offers diversity.

“Believe it or not, MPLS is still growing,” he said. “There’s room for both. MPLS will continue for some time.”

However, Livesay said MPLS should die. None of Aryaka‘s customers uses MPLS.

“MPLS replacement is definitely our No. 1 use case,” he said.

Packet vs. Session Routing

Toth said he was also surprised when the panelists didn’t agree that packet-based routing is better than session-based routing.

“I’ve always been under the impression that packet-based routing is better than session-based routing,” he said. “So when people tell me,  ‘Well, it kind of depends, if one is better than the other, then I’m just going to throw all of my traffic over one.’ I thought that would be more packet-based versus session-based.”

Douglass said there’s room for both packet-based and session-based routing depending on what the customer wants. Norton said it depends on use case, and Wood said there are cases to be made for the benefits of both.

“At Aryaka, it’s largely both,” Livesay said. “We have a combination of packet-and session-based routing.”

When asked whether they have been negatively impacted by the ongoing chip shortage, the panelists agreed it hasn’t disrupted their business, although Douglass said there’s “been some pain” on the Cisco side. CBTS’ communications practice portfolio includes Cisco SD-WAN as a service.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Edward Gately or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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