Monday, December 24, 2012

Choosing The Right MPLS Network Service Provider

Choosing The Right MPLS Network Service Provider
By Jon Arnold

MPLS is an acronym which stands for Multi Protocol Label Switching. That is a fancy name for this but an MPLS circuit is one that combines the best features of the older style traditional point to point circuits and the even older frame relay circuits into a single circuit, and then add more functionality on top of all that.

What an MPLS circuit does at its base level is allow you to connect multiple offices in different locations in the same way that you would with a point to point network. But you are not limited to the PTP hub and spoke configuration, which is both inefficient as well as expensive. With MPLS technology, you are not paying a per-mile charge between locations as you would with PTP or frame relay, making MPLS much less expensive to accomplish the same thing. For example, an MPLS network between a node in New York and a node in Cleveland would be within pennies of the same price as having one MPLS node in New York and another MPLS node in Seattle. In other words, the distance between the nodes is immaterial.

MPLS circuits are also secure and private since the data does not travel over the public Internet. It is your own private and secure network.

What factors should be considered when choosing an MPLS network service provider? Let's look at some of those factors here:

1. Customer Service

This is of paramount importance with any service provider. Make sure you find a service provider who has outstanding customer service and offers it 24x7. Also make sure their tech support is top-notch and that they are always available to answer any question that might arise at any time. This is particularly important during the setup and configuration phase.

2. Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Be sure to choose a carrier which will provide a SLA (Service Level Agreement) that is acceptable to you. This agreement will answer such questions as what is the acceptable level of downtime that you can expect with the circuits. This document spells it out all so everybody is on the same page.

3. Management of the MPLS Network

It is crucial to make sure that you understand who does the management of your MPLS network and to what degree. Most reliable carriers today sell MPLS circuits which include a carrier-provided and carrier-managed router, which means they have responsibility for managing it, but make sure you understand what you can and cannot do in terms of management of it.

4. Does This Carrier Service All Your Locations

MPLS is not a standard such as having specifications defined and ratified by an organization like the IEEE. Rather, MPLS is a methodology or an approach to solving a telecommunications problem. What this means to you is that every carrier has implemented MPLS slightly differently, and your best chances for success are using the same carrier at all nodes of your MPLS network.

Notice that we did not mention price as a factor. Yes, price is always a factor but in today's world, you need to be concerned much more with "best value" than "lowest price". Particularly in telecom, you get what you pay for, and if you find a great price on MPLS from unknown carrier XYZ, there is a good chance that you are putting your network at risk for non-performance.

Choosing a MPLS service provider is not a simple task. You should use a telecom broker who can honestly and frankly tell you which carriers should be considered and which should not, based on the locations you need to interconnect. Depending on your locations, even a "brand name" may not be your best option.

Allow us to be your telecom broker and help you with your selection of an MPLS service provider. We represent more than 35 first tier carriers, and based on the volume of business we provide for them every month, they allow us to guarantee that the quotes we provide you are the lowest that the carrier will offer. We also known which carriers are good and which may be a question mark for the sites that you want to connect, and are more than happy to share that inside knowledge with you. When shopping for your best value in an MPLS Network and need to find the best MPLS Service Provider who can meet your needs, please make sure you talk with us to get your MPLS quotes.

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