What is MPLS?
MPLS is an acronym for Multi-protocol label switching and it’s a technology used for connecting/networking multiple branch offices together with a private IP connection. Multiprotocol Label Switching is a type of protocol that is used to shape network traffic flows and to increase speed. As a standard today, networks are divided into numerous segments through switches. Each segment can have individual data communications, which results in load separation. This allows for multiple message frames to be in transit simultaneously. This parallel data flow is responsible for a network performance boost and efficient communications. MPLS gives you certain capabilities not available using Internet or other connectivity transport methods. QOS (quality of service) is central to MPLS as it allows you to prioritize services and traffic in the network, and not just in the router but in the packets themselves. That ability means better performance for VoIP and better video quality.
Benefits of MPLS Networks
A wide area network that uses Internet as its primary transport circuits inherently has certain reliability issues. Broadband bandwidth is not guaranteed, its best effort meaning the bandwidth tends to fluxuate. It has security flaws because it is a public network. QOS is not available in the network, but only at the CPE level meaning packets can't be prioritized. Using public networks for connectivity also means VPNs are necessary in order to encrypt your traffic and that means managing CPE at multiple locations and physically needing to be onsite from time to time. SD WAN eliminates some of that by moving the configuration to the cloud but MPLS is still the most secure and most reliable transport for networks.
Here are 5 benefits of MPLS Networks
- Improved Uptime - MPLS reduces the amount of manual intervention your provider has to do in order to create wide area connectivity which reduces the likelihood of human error bringing down the circuit. It also is dedicated private bandwidth with SLA.
- Ease of Management - With MPLS it is easy to add an additional site to the network. There is no need to configure complex mesh of tunnels as with other technologies. The service is typically delivered with a bundled pre-configured router by the carrier.
- Quality of Service - By putting multiple types of traffic on the same link, you can let high priority traffic borrow capacity from lower priority traffic streams whenever necessary. MPLS offers multiple levels of QOS meaning you can specify latency, jitter, and packet loss minimums for each traffic type. It allows for labels on packets making it easy to do QOS right in the network and prioritize voice traffic, video or whatever you need.
- Network Simplicity - A connection between sites can be configured to act like long ethernet cables where all the hops happen in the cloud simplifying your network and moving the complexity to the carrier. The carrier handles routing so you don't have to.
- Reduced Network Congestion - Sometimes the shortest distance between two sites is not the best one to take as congestion makes it less attractive (at least for a time). MPLS offers traffic engineering options that enable traffic to be sent over non-standard paths reducing latency and congestion on paths that have been avoided as a result of the traffic shaping.
MPLS fits well in the following situations...
- Multiple types of traffic sharing a data connection such as VOIP, Video, etc
- Anywhere uptime is critical such as key locations
- When network congestion occurs on certain connections
- When some sites need to be able to connect to many different locations while being entirely invisible to other sites.
MPLS improves corporate wide area networks because its stable, secure, and scalable WAN connectivity that can carry multiple types of traffic and provide QOS. Multiprotocol label switching makes it possible to operate various applications across a single network infrastructure. Networks can effortlessly handle bandwidth swell and the dynamic flow of communications across continents or around the world. Segments are joined and new segments can be added. This not only greatly enhances the power and performance of a network, but it brings a level of flexibility that is essential in today’s fast-paced, constantly evolving digital era.
Interested in an how MPLS can improve your network?