Should you be considering MPLS for your business?
If you aren’t interested in business networking technology, then listening to IT professionals talk about it might leave you scratching your head.
10:03 03 June 2021
Particularly when it comes to MPLS.
However, implementing MPLS could lead to some huge advantages for your business. That’s why we’re here to tell you straightforwardly about what this technology can do for your company, without drowning you in jargon.
Let’s start by breaking down this intimidating acronym - MPLS stands for Multi-Protocol Label Switching, and you’ll likely hear it discussed in the context of connections. However, unlike a typical business internet circuit, it doesn’t connect you to the broader internet - instead, it dynamically manages and reroutes the data going back and forth between devices in your network.
Basically, the ‘Multi-Protocol’ part refers to the fact that it’s a management technique that can function no matter the language - or protocol - the devices on the network are using to communicate. Next, the ‘Label’ is a little chunk of data attached to the existing data travelling through your network, put there so that a Label Switching Router - the ‘Switching’ part of the acronym - can sort the data based on what its label contains, and reroute it accordingly.
Sending Data Across Your Network
Data delivery may sound complex, but you can visualise it just like parcels being delivered across a number of streets. You wouldn’t have delivery drivers set off for the first location without knowing the full list - after all, what if the second is just around the corner?
Essentially, the labelling system identifies the priority and destination, and the multi-protocol part means that the language isn’t an issue. Then, the switching function can change the delivery priority on the go in case any changes are made across the network.
Benefiting Your Business
Now that you know the basics of how MPLS functions, you’ll want to know what it can do for you in a business context - after all, what’s the point in implementing a fancy IT solution if you don’t know how to make the most of it? Let’s go over just a few of the advantages of having this technology:
Better User Experience
More and more businesses are relying on real-time and cloud-based applications on a daily basis so that end-users have the best possible customer experience. Unfortunately, these end-user tasks are susceptible to poor network performance - which is where MPLS can come in handy. The switching mechanism means that user experience should never suffer, even during busy periods; this is a huge benefit for anybody who’s had to deal with the frustration of congestion and data loss, which can be hugely disruptive.
A Simplified Network
You can interpret an MPLS connection as a really long ethernet cable between two sites - it’s obviously more complex than this, but for all intents and purposes this is basically how it functions. With the correct labelling, data can be fast tracked along, simplifying how your network behaves. This can be extremely useful for any IT professionals who’ll be working on your network - greater complexity means a greater chance for human error, and sifting through a complicated network is a pain when looking for a specific fault.
Quicker Network Speeds
You’ll likely have experienced periods where your business network has been completely overwhelmed by congestion, particularly when lots of different data types are being sent back and forth. An MPLS system can reroute different varieties of traffic through non-standard paths, meaning that data is delivered much faster, and the subsequent hold-up of operations can be totally avoided.
Sped Up Expansion
In the past, expanding your network would have meant configuring a complicated mesh of tunnels that safeguarded routes through wider circuits, allowing data to be delivered with greater speed and accuracy. MPLS does away with the need for this, meaning data can always find the most efficient and dynamic route to its destination.
An MPLS system allows you to handle the priority of various traffic types in real time. Therefore, if you need to ensure that a real-time system is going to stay up, you can alter the MPLS settings to do this. Your system will then borrow bandwidth intelligently from different types of low priority traffic to make sure that high priority systems stay afloat, even if there’s a strain from different applications.
To be clear: a simpler network is almost always an easier network to manage and maintain. Although network management typically won’t faze most IT professionals, the need for more management will always result in a higher risk of mistakes being made. If you’re reducing that need for human intervention, then you’re automatically increasing the chance that your network will stay online, dodging dreaded downtime before it has the chance to impact your business.
Choosing To Implement MPLS Into Your Business Network
You’ll likely still have some questions about whether MPLS is the right choice for your business, and we can’t answer that question for you. However, we can give you a few more questions to consider as you continue your research:
- Would downtime be harmful to my business?
- Do I regularly experience network congestion and data loss?
- Would quickly provisioning new locations be useful for growth?
- Do I have lots of different data types using the same few network connections?
- Does my business use its IT network for voice and data?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above, then MPLS could prove to be hugely beneficial for your business, both now and further down the line. It won’t be cheap to implement from the get-go, and you’ll need to make sure that you find the best provider available for your company. However, once everything’s in place, you’ll likely find a lot to love about MPLS and the benefits it can bring across different facets of your business, your user experience – and crucially, your end-user experience.