MPLS – Is it an IT Essential for Your New Business?
Updated on October 12, 2021 | by Alex Jones
For a non-computer whiz, the jargon and technical terms that come along with a growing IT network can be almost incomprehensible – but MPLS is something that is worth figuring out, as it has some amazing advantages if implemented in a business.
To make it more understandable, we’ve put together a plain-language look at MPLS – so read on to find out what it actually is, and what these advantages may be, and how you can find a provider that will understand your needs exactly.
First things first, let’s address that acronym. MPLS actually stands for Multi-Protocol Label Switching. You may have heard MPLS be mentioned if you’ve overheard or been part of a conversation about ‘connections’. However – MPLS is not a method of connecting your network outwards to the world, it’s actually a data management technique to help sort out the data that’s already passing through your network and its connections.
Let’s take a look at the individual words. ‘Multi-Protocol’ refers to the fact that MPLS is compatible with data regardless of the protocol (think of this as the language) that your network’s devices use to communicate with each other. ‘Label’ is referring to a very small, additional piece of data that is given to your existing data as it travels your network. This is where ‘Switching’ comes in – the label is given so that a label switch router (or LSR) knows exactly how to handle each piece of data, according to its label.
Data Delivery Spanning Your Entire Network
It might help to think of the data in your network as many tiny packages that must be delivered over a large area. It would be silly for one of your delivery drivers to hastily shoot over to the first delivery location if their second location was simply across the road from your delivery depot, and the label system prevents this from happening. Whatever the protocol of a piece of data, its label means its destination and priority can be identified, and the switching technique can be utilized to change the order of delivery on the fly, depending on what your network needs.
What Can MPLS Do for Your Business?
Hopefully, now your understanding of MPLS is a little better, but you’ll need more than this simple explanation if you’re the one making decisions for your business. What you really need to know is what advantages MPLS can have for your business, to decide whether it’s worth investing in. To help you further, here’s a look at some of the potential benefits you’d receive from implementing an MPLS system.
Boost Your Efficiency
Since MPLS means you can alter the priority of different network traffic on the fly, ensuring that a real-time system stays online is simple. With a quick adjustment of your MPLS settings, the system can borrow the bandwidth it needs from other traffic on the network, keeping high-priority apps and systems online.
Speed Up Expansion
Older, more traditional methods of network expansion require a complicated network of ‘tunnels’ to be created – these tunnels protect traffic routes through wider circuits, helping data be delivered on time and with accuracy. This is not needed in an MPLS system, as MPLS is built to help data find the quickest, most logical route to its destination.
Make Your Network More Simple
When an MPLS connection is implemented between two separate locations, it acts almost like there’s a huge ethernet cable connecting the areas together. This is perhaps oversimplifying things, as there are still various jumps between carriers and devices necessary for everything to work, but with an MPLS system’s efficient labeling system, data can be sent on its way through the connection super quick, helping simplify how your network acts, and also how it looks. This is useful for everyone working on your network, as a simple network means fewer variables are involved when issues need addressing.
Once your network is simplified, managing it becomes a lot easier. Managing a network indeed tends not to be too much of an issue for a team of IT workers or contractors with experience, but even so, with more management comes to a higher risk of human error. With a simplified network, the need for people managing it is reduced, meaning less chance for error, and ensuring your network stays online whenever you need it.
Improve User Experience
It is growingly common for businesses to be relying on real-time and cloud-based applications, to make sure end-users can give customers the very best experience. This becomes an issue if the performance of your network starts to decrease, but an MPLS network’s switching technique helps to avoid this problem. Anyone who has ever been a victim of data loss as a result of network latency – which happens when your network is overloaded and can’t cope with all the traffic, leading it to drop data to prevent a freeze – will agree that this is a huge advantage.
Increase Your Network’s Speed
Let’s face it, business IT networks get very busy, and this can result in congestion. This is even more common when there are multiple varieties of data all passing through your network. When an MPLS network is used to control different traffic routes through the network, this gives it a speed boost, as congestion and hold-ups become far less of an issue, even when dealing with heavy traffic.
Should You Implement MPLS?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not a straightforward yes or no, there are really several things to consider before deciding if MPLS is the right step for your business:
- Is your network often congested?
- Do you utilize your network for voice and data purposes?
- Would you find it useful for your growth to be able to quickly provision new sites?
- Is ensuring uptime over various locations crucial to the operation of your business?
- Is your network currently making use of numerous different types of data, all using the same connections?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, MPLS would likely be a good step for your business. You may find that MPLS isn’t the cheapest option, but it really is effective – as long as you try to ensure you’re getting the best possible service for what you’re paying. Have a chat with potential MPLS providers, and also your in-house IT team or managed service provider – they’ll help you get a service tailored to your exact needs.