@scottalanmiller said in MPLS alternative:
MPLS is the alternative here. MPLS acts identically to a VPN aggregator in a mesh edge VPN gateway design. So on the very, very rare case that you want to replicate MPLS, you simple use the VPN design that MPLS is modeled on.
So there is one "difference". MPLS as a private line WILL honor your DSCP (QoS Tagging at layer 3) tags over the WAN. Historically for latency-sensitive apps (Voice) you could do stuff like Tag SIP control traffic to EF (Expedited Forwarding) and tag AF31 (priority) to RTP (the voice payload) and the CoS to DSCP mappings at your MPLS router would make sure that that if anything was going to drop or have issues with buffering the Voice traffic would "ride through" with priority. When your alternative was a T1 for 500, paying 800 for a MPLS T1 was "worth it" because to get the equivalent experience you'd probably need a 10Mbps Fiber handoff that back in 200x was going to cost you 8K a month or something insane.
Now a TON of people who buy MPLS doesn't realize.
- You gotta tag your traffic.
- you need to CALL YOUR PROVIDER and find out what the priority queues and tags they support and profile look like (or apply one). By default they often just ignore tags.
- In most of the world these days it's cheaper to just buy more bandwidth, and aggregate links from multiple providers, and do dynamic traffic shaping with VPN meshes across them. You can also do stuff like inject parity into streams that have packet loss on bulk traffic, and for skinny flows that you need 100% delivery on (Voice) do things like double deliver the packets (If I've got a 64Kbps voice call, sending that down both the Cable Modem and the 5G connection isn't really a big deal).
What does all these magical things? SD-WAN. SD-WAN is a marketing term for next-generation magic bandwidth massaging router/mesh systems that generally have a really nice central control. Could you do similar things with ISRs and Performance-based routing and DMVPN meshes? (ehhhh, maybe 1/2 of it, but it would cost a fortune and require a damn CCIE to manage)
My employer is a player in this space (NSX SD-WAN, formerly VeloCloud). There's also Cisco Viptela and a ton of other players (RiverBed, F5 networks, HPE bought someone I'm forgetting).
A thing to note on SD-WAN is you can "buy it" yourself, but also a lot of Telcos and bandwidth aggregators will sell it to you (Then you just get a CPE box, and they handle the billing and sourcing of backup providers). There are pro-cons to how much ownership you want of this (PacketPushers has had some strong opinions on why you want to own, but given the savings vs. MPLS if you need to get out of a contract now even a MSP managed one is going to be 1000x better than renewing a MPLS line).
The general trend I'm seeing is people get Fiber if they can, COAX if they can't and then they bolt 2-3 different wireless dongles onto the box and they prioritize the circuits they don't pay per packet on, but have options if things go sideways. 5G having 4 major network operators is going to make wireless be an even player against Fiber and Coax soon enough (AT&T/T-Mobile/Verizon/Dish/cable company in a 5 way bidding war will get fun).