For every business, the speed and efficiency of their computer network is a constant concern. Today, networking services must go far beyond the standards of the past, to encompass a full range of data traffic that supports every aspect of the modern office workplace. That means not only delivering data packets, but delivering them quickly and securely, often to outlying locations that may be connected to the company’s network. Make no mistake, speed and reliability are not just luxuries, they are essential if a business is to succeed and flourish in an ever more competitive marketplace. The ability to send and receive data, including voice and video, quickly and efficiently has never been more important. But as business communications needs change and evolve, some older technologies are struggling to keep up. MPLS, or Multi-Protocol Label Switching, can provide the networking solutions that many businesses, both large are small, have been seeking.
What Is MPLS?
Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) is not so much a service, as a method of delivery data packets over an IP network. With a traditionally routed IP network, each data packet is given a network layer header. When that data packet reaches a router, the router encountered must make an independent decision on where and how to forward the data packet. This occurs every time a data packet reaches a router on the way to its final destination. The process can be slow, and allows for delays on and loss of data on the way to delivery.
MPLS takes a different approach. When a data packet is first launched onto the network, it is given a label which indicates the forwarding equivalence class, or FEC, to which it has been assigned. Every router within the network has an index of the various FEC labels, and an established protocol of how to proceed with said data packet. Routers no longer need to perform a header analysis. The simply recognize the attached FEC label, consult the index, and assign a new label to be indexed by the next router in the chain. This allows MPLS networks to handle data more consistently and efficiently. It also makes it easier for the network to handle data packets that need to be delivered in real time, such as voice or video, by passing them through low-latency routes along the network.
The Benefits of MPLS
MPLS offers a number of distinct benefits for businesses who are looking to improve their internal computer networks.
- Improved Speed and Performance – Data can be transferred more rapidly between sites, with a lower degree of packet loss. The MPLS labeling process means that routers no longer have to read and decipher headers, significantly increasing router speed.
- Improved Quality of Service – Businesses using MPLS will experience greater reliability, as well as speed. Because the MPLS technique can assign priority to specific data packs, real time applications such as voice services and video conferencing can be allocated a higher bandwidth, thereby improving overall performance.
- Resiliency – Because MPLS uses multiple protocols to direct data traffic, if a link in the network goes down that data can be quickly and easily routed to an alternative path. MPLS networks also have a quicker response to interrupted connections as opposed to their more traditional networking counterparts.
- Better Security – Because information is transferred along an integrated private network, and not over the public internet, proprietary data is more secure. This is particularly important for businesses in the healthcare and banking industries.
- Easily Scalable – MPLS makes it easy to add on to your IT infrastructure. As your business grows, new sites and applications can be quickly and efficiently added and made ready for deployment.
- Cost Efficient – The cost of an MPLS network is more than competitive with traditional Frame Relay and Private Link networks. Businesses can save as much as 20% to 30% on network costs.
MPLS offers a welcome alternative to the traditional computer network model. With MPLS your network will become faster, more efficient, and more reliable. All of which translates to greater flexibility and increased productivity in the workplace.