Steps for Migrating From MPLS to SD-WAN

The transition from MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) to SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network) is a significant shift in how businesses approach network connectivity and management. This graphic provides a step-by-step guide to migrating from MPLS to SD-WAN, which is a process that could enable organizations to enjoy the benefits of more flexible, open, and cloud-friendly networking. Here’s an in-depth look at each of the steps outlined in the infographic:
Migrating From MPLS to SD-WAN

Step 1: Review Your Current MPLS Contract

Before making any changes to your network infrastructure, it's critical to thoroughly review your existing MPLS contract. This step is crucial to understand the terms, conditions, and particularly the expiration dates and termination clauses of your current agreement. Organizations might find themselves bound by long-term contracts, with hefty fees for early termination. Detailed attention should be paid to the service level agreements (SLAs) to evaluate how they match the business’s current needs, which can evolve rapidly.

Step 2: Understand Your Commitment

Assessing the company’s commitment involves a granular understanding of the current network usage and requirements. This means examining data traffic patterns, understanding the importance of different types of data, and the potential impact of downtime or latency on operations. You need to consider the types of applications your network is supporting, the geographic distribution of your sites, and the data demands of your users. It’s also a time to consider whether your current MPLS service is overprovisioned or underutilized, which can affect both performance and cost.

Step 3: Switch to a Month-to-Month Contract

As your MPLS contract nears its end, consider negotiating a switch to a month-to-month contract. This provides greater flexibility to transition to SD-WAN without being locked into a long-term commitment that may not serve your evolving business needs. This interim step can be a strategic move that allows the business to test SD-WAN solutions in parallel with existing MPLS services, ensuring continuity and minimizing risk.

Step 4: Measure the Latency to Remote Sites

Performance is key in a WAN, and latency is a critical performance metric. Before making the switch, it's important to measure the latency between remote sites and the applications they access. Understanding existing latency can help set benchmarks and performance expectations for the new SD-WAN setup. This will also aid in configuring the SD-WAN to prioritize critical applications and ensure that performance is at least on par with, if not better than, the MPLS network.

Step 5: Order New Internet Services

SD-WAN allows for the use of multiple types of connections, including broadband internet, LTE, and MPLS. As such, ordering new internet services may be necessary to ensure adequate bandwidth and redundancy for your network. This can also include securing connections with higher bandwidth to support cloud applications and services, which are becoming increasingly important for modern businesses.

Transitioning to SD-WAN can offer many advantages, including cost savings, improved performance, increased agility, and enhanced support for cloud-based applications. However, a careful, well-planned migration is critical to achieve these benefits without disrupting business operations. Each step in the migration process requires careful planning and consideration, involving not just IT, but stakeholders across the business to ensure that the new network aligns with broader business goals and strategies.

Organizations should also consider the security implications of the transition. While SD-WAN offers improved security features, these must be properly configured and managed to be effective. Furthermore, businesses may need to upskill or bring in new talent to manage the more complex, software-driven environment that comes with SD-WAN.

Finally, the transition to SD-WAN should be seen as an ongoing process rather than a one-time event. Continuous monitoring, management, and optimization will be required to fully leverage the capabilities of SD-WAN and to ensure that the network continues to meet the business's needs as they evolve over time.

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