Skip to main content

MPLS vs Broadband, MPLS vs SD-WAN, and SaaS: The Optimal Path to Network Inventory Management

26 September 2023
Melanie Gomersall

Trusted by:

Telecom Egypt
BC Hydro


National Grid
Open Fiber
TPX Communications
Ella Link
Red Iris
Surf Net

When it comes to building a robust and resilient enterprise network, operators have multiple options to consider. Two prominent choices are MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) and Broadband Internet. With the advent of SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network), the decision-making process has become even more intricate. In parallel, there’s a growing trend among operators to implement Network Inventory Management Systems using SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) solutions. In this blog, we’ll explore these networking technologies and the benefits of SaaS-based inventory management.

MPLS vs Broadband

A Technical Lens
When viewed through a technical lens, MPLS and Broadband diverge significantly in terms of data handling and performance. MPLS employs label-based routing, providing low-latency and consistent data transmission ideal for real-time applications like VoIP. It allows for granular Quality of Service (QoS) configurations, making it possible to prioritize critical business traffic. On the other hand, Broadband uses IP-based routing, which is more susceptible to fluctuations in latency and jitter. While it offers high bandwidth, the lack of sophisticated QoS settings makes it less suitable for applications requiring high reliability and real-time data transmission. Overall, the choice between MPLS and Broadband hinges on your specific needs for performance, reliability, and how you intend to manage network traffic.

• Reliability: MPLS networks are private and managed, offering a more controlled environment for data transmission.
• Quality of Service (QoS): Allows for prioritization of different types of data traffic, making it ideal for real-time applications like VoIP.
• Security: Being a private network, MPLS tends to be more secure than regular broadband.
• Cost: Typically more expensive to set up and maintain, especially for smaller branches or remote locations.

• Cost-Effective: Generally cheaper and easier to implement than MPLS.
• Flexibility: Quick to deploy, easily scalable.
• Internet Speed: Generally offers higher bandwidth, but it’s shared, so speeds can fluctuate.
• Security and Reliability: Less secure and reliable than MPLS.


A Technical Examination
Technically, MPLS and SD-WAN differ in how they manage network resources and adapt to the evolving enterprise landscape. MPLS specializes in delivering packets via pre-determined, optimized routes, courtesy of its label-switching technique. This ensures consistent low-latency transmission but comes at the cost of flexibility, especially when integrating cloud services or scaling across multiple locations. SD-WAN, in contrast, employs a software-defined approach that can dynamically route traffic over multiple types of connections, including MPLS, Broadband, and even 4G/LTE. This adaptability makes SD-WAN inherently cloud-friendly and easier to scale. In essence, while MPLS focuses on reliable and optimized data paths, SD-WAN brings flexibility and ease of management to the table, making each suitable for specific networking needs and organizational priorities.

• Limited Scalability: MPLS can be cumbersome to scale, especially for businesses with numerous branches.
• Centralized Applications: Works well if most applications are centralized.

• Cost-Effectiveness: Can reduce WAN costs by leveraging inexpensive Internet links.
• Scalability: Easier to scale across multiple locations.
• Cloud-Friendly: Designed to support decentralized network architectures, beneficial if your enterprise uses cloud-based applications.
• Flexibility: Allows for intelligent path selection, can use MPLS, broadband, or even 4G/LTE connections based on the requirement.
Given the benefits of SD-WAN over MPLS in terms of cost, scalability, and cloud-readiness, many enterprises are transitioning to SD-WAN. However, some are using a hybrid approach, integrating both MPLS and SD-WAN, to combine the reliability of MPLS with the flexibility of SD-WAN.

Why Opting for SaaS in Network Inventory Management Complements MPLS and SD-WAN Choices
The realm of Network Inventory Management Systems is a crucial one for any enterprise network, including those built on MPLS or transitioning to SD-WAN. Here’s why a SaaS-based approach for network inventory management aligns well with whichever networking technology you choose, especially MPLS.

  1. Financial Efficiency
    Traditional inventory systems demand hefty upfront capital expenditure on both hardware and software, similar to the cost-intensive nature of MPLS. However, by opting for a SaaS model for inventory management, you can offset some of these costs. This pay-as-you-go approach turns capital expenses into operational ones, making it easier to manage your budget while still leveraging the strengths of MPLS for data transmission.
  2. Easy to Scale
    MPLS networks, while reliable, are often harder to scale across multiple locations. In contrast, a SaaS solution for Network Inventory Management grows with you. As you expand your network, whether via MPLS or SD-WAN, the cloud-based inventory system can easily accommodate more nodes and locations, serving as a flexible counterpart to your network’s rigid aspects.
  3. High Availability and Reliability
    MPLS networks are favoured for their reliability. Similarly, SaaS solutions for Network Inventory Management come with high-availability options that ensure your data is safe, accessible, and recoverable at all times. This mirrors the reliability you aim for when you opt for an MPLS network.
  4. Swift Deployment
    While MPLS networks can be slow to deploy due to their complex configurations, SaaS-based Network Inventory Management Systems can be rolled out much faster. This rapid deployment time can offset the time consumed in setting up an MPLS network, allowing your business to get up and running more quickly.
  5. Anytime, Anywhere Accessibility
    MPLS is often used for its capability to provide reliable access to centralized applications. SaaS-based inventory solutions extend this centralized control by being accessible from anywhere, anytime, making it easier for network operators to manage assets even when they are not on-site.
  6. Automated Updates
    MPLS networks are known for their managed service nature, often coming with a team of experts who handle maintenance. Similarly, SaaS solutions automatically update to provide new features or security enhancements without manual intervention, resembling the hands-off approach you might appreciate in an MPLS setup.

In summary, the choice between MPLS and SD-WAN for your networking needs is complemented seamlessly by adopting a SaaS-based approach for Network Inventory Management. SaaS solutions offer the scalability, high availability, and financial efficiency that can balance the limitations or costs associated with MPLS. Therefore, for organizations that choose the reliability and Quality of Service features that come with MPLS, incorporating a SaaS-based Network Inventory Management System, like VC4’s Starter or Professional, could be the optimal path to combining operational excellence with financial prudence.