If you aren’t particularly into the world of IT, you might find that anything to do with your business network leaves your head spinning – especially jargon and acronyms like MPLS.
But this is one piece of tech worth getting your head round, as it could provide some amazing benefits for your business. That’s why we’re here to explain exactly what MPLS is, and what it could offer your company.
Let’s begin by breaking down the acronym – MPLS stands for Multi-Protocol Label Switching. You’ll usually hear it discussed alongside ‘connections’, however, unlike your business internet circuit, it doesn’t actually connect your network up to the rest of the world. Rather, it’s a technique for dynamically managing the data running through your network according to priority.
Next, we’ll go through it part by part. Multi-Protocol refers to how this management technique can operate no matter what language – or protocol – is being used by each device on the network for communication. The Label is a little chunk of extra data attached to the existing data that moves through your network. It is added so that a Label Switch Router – the Switching part of the acronym – can handle the data accordingingly.
How Is Data Delivered Across Your Network?
If you’re struggling to visualise how data is exchanged across networks, it can be useful to view it as thousands of packages being delivered across a town. It wouldn’t make sense for a driver to set off to deliver parcel number one without checking the full list first – otherwise, you might find that number two was just around the corner from where you began!
The labelling system is basically like checking the list beforehand – it identifies the destination and priority, and doesn’t need to worry about what language the data is in because of the multi-protocol part. The switching technique then allows for the order priority to dynamically change, depending on what would be best for the network at that given moment.
What Would MPLS Mean For Your Business?
Now that we’ve gone through the basics of how MPLS operates, it’s time to start considering the tangible effect that it could have on your business. After all, no matter how technologically advanced your network is, it may as well be primitive if it can’t meaningfully benefit your company – particularly if you choose to invest heavily in it.
Simplifying Your Network
You can view an MPLS connection between two separate locations as essentially like having a really long ethernet cable between the two sites. It’s obviously much more complicated in reality, as there are hops required between carriers and devices, but if the data is labelled effectively, it can be fast tracked along the network, hugely simplifying how your business network behaves. Any IT professionals that you bring on to maintain your network will be very grateful for this – as is often the case outside of the IT world, the simpler a system is, the easier it is to find and fix issues within it.
Improving User Experience
An increasing majority of businesses these days are reliant on real-time and cloud-based applications that assist end users in giving customers a high quality experience. Unfortunately, though, they’re highly prone to poor network performance, which is where MPLS can come in. The switching mechanism can prevent your user experience from dropping off, allowing for a better and more consistent service delivery; if you’ve ever had to deal with data loss or network latency, this could be a huge benefit.
Business networks are often bustling, and as a result, it’s not unusual for congestion to occur, especially when multiple types of traffic are in transit. An MPLS system can route different varieties of traffic through non-standard paths, reducing the slowdown that tends to occur when traffic is heavy and allowing for a much quicker delivery of data.
As discussed earlier, a simpler network is a much more straightforward network to run and maintain. Although your IT professionals won’t have much trouble with network management in general, a more complex network requires more management, and is therefore at a much higher risk for some inevitable human error. If you take away the need for this kind of intervention, you’re drastically lowering the chance for mistakes to be made.
Through an MPLS system, you can dynamically handle the priority of every kind of traffic type. This means that if you require a particular real time application to stay online, you can alter the settings and ensure that it will be made a high priority. Your system will then borrow bandwidth intelligently from elsewhere in the network to make sure this application stays running, at the cost of a small strain on less important software.
In the past, expanding your network would have needed to involve configuring a complicated mesh of tunnels that functioned to safeguard routes through broader circuits so that data could be delivered as quickly as possible. This isn’t the case with an MPLS system, which always ensures that data will reach its destination through the most efficient route.
Should You Implement MPLS Into Your Business?
You’ll likely still be considering whether investing in an MPLS system is the right choice for your company, and we can’t answer that question for you! However, it may be helpful to take the following questions into account while you’re making your mind up:
- Do you need to increase uptime as a matter of priority?
- Do you often experience network congestion and data loss?
- Would quick expansion to new sites be beneficial for your business?
- Does your network handle a wide range of data types?
- Does your company use your network for voice and data?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then you might find MPLS to be an effective IT solution. It isn’t the cheapest technology out there, so you’ll need to make sure you get the most out of your money when it comes to finding a solid MPLS provider. You should also discuss this with your IT team or current managed service provider, who can advise you on whether MPLS makes sense for your company, and how best to implement it if you decide to take the plunge.
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