Friday, November 07, 2008

When is MPLS the Best Choice For Your Network Backbone?

You have an often confusing menu of choices for your voice/data network today. A hot option for multi-site networks is MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching). Is MPLS the right choice for your business?

MPLS provides for use of short tails into a large network. The tail price being a larger proportion or any connectivity cost. Therefore, MPLS works out very well when compared to long distance point to point links or when connectiong multiple sites.

VPLS the new generation of MPLS enables multi-site to multi-site connectivity similar to having a WAN all on the same LAN subnet. This reduces single points of failure and provides for greater control and facilities the roll out of new services across a WAN as the end user doesn't require any technical knowledge to deploy mult-level QoS and virtual switching between sites. In layer 2 VPLS the network is completely transparent to the end customer.

MPLS usually is a cheap way of connecting several offices point to point for data transfer, and once you pull that one, expanding it to voice is plain and cheap. It all depends what technology you generally use to connect several points together.

MPLS is the best choice when you are running latency sensitive applications over your WAN. Also, if your business has multiple locations, MPLS is a great way to have redundancy built into your WAN. It also doesn't matter if the foundation is T1 bandwidth or DS3 Bandwidth.

MPLS brings the advantages of dedicated links in the cost of shared IP networks, with multiservice capabilities and support for traffic engineering as well as QoS. MPLS also provides faster operation on a shared service provider network by using label switching instead of IP routing table lookup at every hop. You can create both point to point or multipoint VPNs using MPLS.

So the answer is, when you want a single converged last mile (Services-voice/data/video/internet) for multiple locations in a cost lower than dedicated links ..... while having the efficiency as good as Or near to dedicated/TDM/ATM links. Then "MPLS is The Choice."

A couple additional comments based upon my carrier experience. MPLS is appropriate for voice/ data because the technology supports trafic prioritization (QoS). An additional consideration is that most carriers have standardized their engineering and network operations on supporting network MPLS-based VPNs. Consequently, you will be able to negotiate better SLAs from your Service Provider. One should also plan an end-to-end QoS strategy for your applications. Ensure you are aware of the application performance requirements prior to designing your network.

To summarize, the positive attributes of MPLS are the flexibility of access methods and transports supported, the scalability of bandwidth demands, and of course, the QoS and traffic prioritization capabilities.

Please heed a warning about the last mile provider. If you can find one provider to cover all of your locations (including the last mile), then this will cause you a lot less headaches.

For help in finding just the right MPLS solution .... comparing multiple providers including free rate quotes ... I strongly suggest taking advantage of the no cost support provided by MPLS Solution.

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