branch office MPLS or alternative


We have a branch office of 20-30 people that need to be incorporated into the main network, including data and voice services. Before I got on board, the plan was to implement an MPLS solution but as far as I know, there are better options out there. We already have a site-to-site VPN between the office (Sonicwalls) but I'm not sure how would I go about incorporating Lync voice into the equation.

Thank you and please let me know if you need more details.
Alan DalaITAsked:
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Garry GlendownConsulting and Network/Security SpecialistCommented:
Using a regular VPN connection between the sites will not provide QoS for voice traffic ... your firewalls might be able to prioritize the voice traffice inside the VPN, but as incoming Internet traffic may fill up your link without you being able to prevent it, your voice quality may suffer... of course the amount of "suffering" will greatly depend on the available bandwidth and the typical use ... if you have a dedicated uplink on either side just for the VPN, it should be usable ...
If you are concerned about voice quality, I would take it a step further and put any real-time packets (voice and video) on a separate Internet link with VPN, not on the same site-to-site VPN if data traffic between the two sites is even moderately busy.  If a single VPN (even if dedicated to site-to-site) carries both data and real-time communications on the same Internet link between the sites, you could still have contention that affects call quality.
Of course, if you are using Lync only for IM then it does not matter.
This also assumes you are talking about a premises-based Lync server.  Similar issues but slightly different architecture is needed if using hosted Lync.
Alan DalaITAuthor Commented:
Thank you for your answers.

We need to use Lync for voice and video. We have a 15Mb as of now but that might improve. The main question is if MPLS is still the best option.

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MPLS is best for ensuring call quality, because you can apply QoS over a deterministic WAN link.  However, many of our clients do not subscribe to MPLS if they setup the dedicated Internet / VPN for just the Lync traffic.   Oops, Skype for Business.  :)  

If you can get an affordable MPLS circuit, it may be worth it.  The Internet VPN is popular with our clients that have multiple offices and light traffic; or where the office-to-office communications are not critical or "customer-facing"
Alan DalaITAuthor Commented:
If I decide to go with another Internet connection, how would I send the Lync voice/video traffic through the second connection?

Garry GlendownConsulting and Network/Security SpecialistCommented:
For site-to-site communication, and if you connect through a second, dedicated router, just configure a specific route for the remote site through that router.
If your main router can take two WAN connections and the VPN, no changes to the computers in the sites ought to be necessary, as the router will take care of the routing through the second link (assuming the router is configured apropriately)

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