Monday, March 12, 2012

MPLS Network Design .... What's Important

Before jumping into MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) for your network design there's important items to consider. Take a step back and first consider what you need your network to do, how, and what must happen if there are issues.

Intent of the network is definitely a critical piece. It is so important to understand what you are putting over the network in order to engineer the optimal network. I've had the same conversations with clients when they realize that they can't have as many call paths as they would like and still be able to surf the net.

Also, business continuity is definitely key. Documenting the plan and understanding how traffic should flow in the event the primary path is unavailable for any reason ensures you have survivability in the instance of an interruption of service or outage of any kind.

If you understand the intent, you can accurately plan for outages or interruptions in your disaster plan. Most times, you don't need to have every type of traffic pass over the MPLS during an outage. You need to understand what is most important to your business, what has the biggest impact on your revenue, and then design a plan that ensures that you don't lose that piece of the puzzle for any length of time.

I think the most important piece is not even the Disaster Recovery plan, but more so the "business continuity" piece. The reality is you want the design to be flawless and address the rare occasion prior to it happening. With having a "business continuity" plan in place this allows for you to continue business seamlessly in the event something does happen. The Disaster Recovery plan will only address how do you recover in the event of an outage, cost, and time associated with the disaster. Business continuity will minimize that impact of these three and ensure you are still operational during this time. The other important pieces of course are the speed and security of the network.

Also key now that I think about it is default route pathing. This ties in to the intent of the network. Even if the original intent of the MPLS network is not to pass internet traffic .... having dynamic routing on the core so that one site can piggy back off of another in the case of an internet connection outage at one of the sites, is often one of the most useful side features that everyone always seems to forget or overlook. Sometimes this can be done with you changing your firewall/router's default gateway to point to the MPLS hop manually or can be done with OSPF/EIGRP.

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MPLS Networks

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