Someone recently sent me this scenario:
Our CIO has recently told us that he wants to get rid of MPLS because it is too costly and is leaning towards big Internet lines running IPSEC VPNs to connect the whole of Africa.
He was obviously shopping around for free advice (my friend Jeremy Stretch posted his answers to exactly the same set of questions not so long ago); here are the responses I wrote to his questions:
As you can imagine, this has caused a huge debate between the networks team and management, we run high priority services such as Lync enterprise, SAP, Video conferencing etc. and networks feel we need MPLS for guaranteed quality on these service and management feels the internet is today stable enough to run just as good as MPLS.
Plenty of my customers use Internet-only approach for their international connectivity. Obviously there’s no QoS or end-to-end SLA on the Internet - if it works, it’s great, if not, there’s nothing you can do. That’s why it’s cheaper than MPLS.
Networks with more stringent QoS requirements might use IPSec-over-Internet for non-real-time traffic and MPLS for real-time and mission-critical traffic (example: Lync and SAP) – I’ve seen a large global organization doing exactly that.
If nothing else, this approach reduces the bandwidth requirements of your MPLS network, and thus its costs.
What is your take on the MPLS vs Internet debate from a network engineer point of view? And more so, would running those services over Internet provide the same user experience as running them on MPLS WAN links?
Obviously not. If there’s no difference, you have a bad MPLS service provider that’s overcharging you.
However, you’ll never know unless you try it. As always, start with a small pilot, gather experience, and work from there.