In response to these changes, companies are increasingly looking to hybrid WANs to bridge the gap between the cloud and traditional networks. This is particularly the case where the WAN is global rather than limited to the UK. Hybrid WAN uses multiple access technologies to get maximum performance for minimum cost.
The advantage of MPLS networks is their reliability for time-critical operations such as transactions or real-time applications. This combines with either local or global internet services and an intelligent or application-aware network overlay to produce a hybrid network.
Businesses value hybrid networks because they reduce costs, particularly for companies operating internationally. An internet-based system is much cheaper than a highly resilient, highly available dual MPLS network, which used to be the standard for international businesses. Under a hybrid model these services are delivered at much lower cost by an internet provider.
Hybrid networks also optimise access to applications, particularly cloud-based applications such as Azure, Office 365, AWS and Google for Business. A hybrid WAN provides a much shorter path to applications by using a local-based internet. On the other hand, with a traditional MPLS network, traffic had to traverse the network and central data centre, often resulting in a poor end-user experience. Enterprises are no longer willing to accept these delays, which can have a significant impact on operations when taken in the whole.
Hybrid WANs deliver great value in terms of cost and speed, but there is a drawback: reliance on the internet to deliver critical applications. Even the very best internet provider cannot guarantee an unvarying level of totally secure, fully reliable service. There will inevitably be fluctuations according to multiple factors.
Traditional MPLS networks provided guaranteed minimum assured bandwidths, ensuring quality of service for critical applications, but the same level of assurance simply does not exist on the internet. While some global service providers offer optimisation, they still cannot reach the levels of reliability and security of a MPLS-based network.