MPLS – Would the Tech Work for Your Business

Anyone who is not fully immersed in the world of IT would be forgiven for thinking that the basic IT network they currently have is pretty much all they need. However, this usually isn’t the case – in fact there are numerous ways for an IT network to be put together, with many features offering various benefits and drawbacks.

One system which is sure to make a positive impact on your business is MPLS – but at the moment you may not have even heard of it, never mind fully understanding what it is, or whether it’s a good choice for a business. In this article we’ve put together a super simple look at the ins and outs of MPLS, going over its advantages in the hopes of assisting you in deciding whether or not to implement it in your network.

MPLS – a quick breakdown

Unless your business is solely based in IT, the term ‘MPLS’ likely doesn’t mean much to you – it’s just another computing acronym like all the others. Let’s have a look at the parts of that acronym, hopefully gaining more understanding along the way.

What MPLS really means is ‘Multi-Protocol Label Switching’. In order to communicate with each other, devices on a network utilise various different protocols – think of it like a language. Devices which use the same protocol handle data the same way, and devices with different protocols handle it differently. ‘Multi-Protocol’ is referring to the fact that MPLS can be implemented in a network regardless of which protocols are used by the network’s devices.

The ‘Label’ part works like an actual physical label, but not quite. Data is given a tiny digital label as it travels the network. This label is to show the priority level of the data, so that a ‘Label Switch Router’ (LSR) knows exactly how to handle it – that’s the ‘Switching’ part.

How MPLS functions

From a functional viewpoint, MPLS is essentially a way of managing a network’s traffic. In a non-MPLS network, its bandwidth is the only real thing handling data as it travels – and in a case such as this, all the data has the same priority. This means that the really important data – such as the data needed to keep a website online at a key time – is all mixed up with the less important data, such as the data needed to send low-priority emails.

MPLS brings order to this chaos, letting your network traffic be sent on its way according to its priority, thanks to the Label Switch Router. Vital systems can be given the utmost priority so they’ll stay online when you need them, and less important data will be given a lower priority, since a slight delay won’t affect your business all that much.

What can MPLS bring to a business?

You may be interested in MPLS at this point, so it’s time to have a look at some of the benefits it can provide, from a business perspective.

MPLS gives your customers a better service

Nowadays it is very common for companies to make use of real-time applications based in the cloud in order to provide their services. However, this can cause problems if a network suffers from performance issues – which can really get in the way of the benefits of the practice. The Label Switch Router used in MPLS systems lets these cloud-based apps be made a high priority, keeping them online and performing consistently well when they need to be – leaving customers and other end users much happier.

MPLS speeds up your network

One of the issues that can come with a bustling IT network is congestion, which can happen when your network’s bandwidth can’t handle all the data trying to travel through it. This leads to data being dropped in order to make room, meaning the quality of service is greatly reduced. MPLS allows for your data to be sent down unconventional routes to ensure it reaches its destination fast, all depending on how its priority is labeled.

MPLS makes network expansion simpler

It can be a pain even for an experienced IT department to expand a non-MPLS network – due to the fact that virtual connections, or ‘tunnels’, need to be created in order to protect your data as it travels between your current and your desired locations. MPLS means that all this isn’t necessary, as it ensures your data gets access to the most efficient pathway to its destination.

MPLS makes system maintenance much less difficult

The jobs of the IT workers who maintain your network can be made easier thanks to MPLS – it’s a great way of making the connections between all the devices and locations on your network much more simple. If a piece of data is given the right label, no matter how far it has to travel, it can be shot rapidly across your network, meaning much less needs to be looked at and considered if network issues ever pop up.

Is MPLS the next step for you?

When it really comes down to it, the only people who can really decide if MPLS is the correct decision for your business is yourself, and the people in your IT department. If you think it might be a good step, or even if you’re unsure, you should definitely ask yourself, and your employees, the following questions about your network:

  • Does the network provide services over numerous physical locations?
  • Does the network currently deal with data of multiple varieties?
  • Does the network ever suffer from congestion?
  • Does the business make use of real-time, cloud-based applications?
  • Would being able to quickly provision new sites be of use to the business?

If your answers to any of these questions was yes – it may well be worth doing some research into MPLS. It may take a little while to ensure a provider can give you what you need, but it’ll surely be time well spent.