Cato Networks: SD-WAN Versus Hybrid WAN

cato-featured SD-WAN Versus Hybrid WAN min

Most enterprise WANs have historically used MPLS, but with the proliferation of cloud resources and mobile users, organizations are realizing the necessity to facilitate more flexible connectivity. They’re faced with many options when making this decision, but one among the primary that has got to be considered is whether or not to travel with a hybrid WAN or SD-WAN.


With a hybrid WAN, two differing types of network services connect locations. Usually, one network service is MPLS while the opposite is usually an online connection. While some enterprises will have a lively MPLS connection with an Internet/VPN connection for failover, hybrid WAN actively uses both connections.

Hybrid WAN – Pros and Cons

Pros of Hybrid WAN

Hybrid WAN configurations leave a simple increase in bandwidth by inserting Internet connections alongside an existing MPLS network. Offloading traffic from MPLS allows for reductions in monthly bandwidth costs and to show up new installations faster by leveraging indigenous Internet access links. Regulatory constraints mandating MPLS can still be met.


Hybrid WAN takes advantage of the reliability, security, and SLA-backed performance of MPLS connections, yet limits the expense of those connections by augmenting connectivity with Internet connections that are cheaper and more versatile. In some cases, these Internet links can help improve performance for traffic that’s not destined for the info center because it can reduce the number of hops that will occur when backhauling through the data center.

Cons of Hybrid WAN

The question is whether or not organizations can ever eliminate MPLS costs with Hybrid WANs. the general public Internet is just too erratic for global deployments requiring the continued use of costly, international MPLS connections. Companies are still left with having to attend months to provision new MPLS circuits. Additionally, maintaining distinctly separate WAN connection transports adds an administrative burden and may create appliance sprawl. Finally, Hybrid WANs aren’t designed with Cloud and mobile communications in mind, requiring additional strategies for securing and integrating these connections into the enterprise.

SD-WAN – Pros and Cons

Pros of SD-WAN

By replacing an MPLS network with SD-WAN, there is often a big cost saving while still maintaining the performance required for today’s applications. Unlike MPLS, with SD-WAN customers can easily add new circuits or increase the bandwidth of existing circuits with little impact on the network configuration. By utilizing multiple low-cost, high-bandwidth circuits, SD-WAN can meet the performance and reliability organizations require. Organizations can select transport types that provide the simplest value for every location and still connect seamlessly to the remainder of the WAN. Additionally, because SD-WAN is compatible with multiple transport types, provisioning of the latest or additional services is far faster than MPLS.

Cons of SD-WAN

Out of the gate, SD-WAN has several challenges that involve security, global locations, and mobile user connectivity. Because public Internet connections are used for SD-WAN, and there’s no use to backhaul to the secured data center, the traffic is no longer secured. For connectivity to some global locations, routing and response times are often unpredictable. However, oftentimes locations that have difficulties getting reliable Internet have ideal MPLS connectivity. for several organizations, connectivity for mobile users and to the cloud may be a drive for change within the WAN infrastructure. But to get access to the cloud with SD-WAN, a separate cloud connection point is required, and mobile users aren’t addressed during a standard SD-WAN solution.

Making the Choice

Some SD-WAN providers have taken the simplest of both worlds by combining the benefits of SD-WAN while overcoming the challenges of a vanilla SD-WAN solution. Meaning the predictability and performance like MPLS while also offering an integrated firewall-as-a-service that creates firewall services available to all or any locations. during this case, the whole WAN is connected to one, logical firewall with an application-aware security policy that permits a unified security policy and a holistic view of the whole WAN. Other challenges like cloud and mobile also are resolved with SD-WAN-as-a-service offerings.


When comparing hybrid WAN to SD-WAN, the choice for many organizations comes right down to whether or not they feel MPLS is often replaced. With the dramatic improvement of Internet performance, unless there are specific locations that have poor Internet connectivity, an enterprise should feel confident that an SD-WAN solution can meet the stress while also providing cost and agility advantages over MPLS or hybrid WAN. If a business features a scenario where they feel MPLS may be a must, then a hybrid WAN solution is often employed.

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