Yes you can run VPLS without ES-20 using any WAN OSM or SIP-600 faing the core.
Although there would be cost difference in each module including ES-20G, but these modules have been designed with different objectives and requirements in mind. As each module provides you with either a certain media type density(ES-20G) or OSM , or the flexibility of media type usage etc (SIP-600).
So you can weigh the pros and cons with each module including the cost marked to the budget and take a call.
The ES20 comes in two flavors - 20 1 gig interfaces or 2 10 gig interfaces. The only cards that support VPLS are the SIP-400, SIP-600, OSM, and ES20. These cards would be required on the PE-P link but not in the core.
I agree - very expensive card and the stupid advanced sw license on top of the already paid for ios license is just ridiculous.
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