What is MPLS? How Multi-protocol Label Switching Works and Benefits Business

It is no secret that for companies to function properly and grow in the current digital age, they need to be connected – to the internet and eventually to other branches. This creates a unique problem of how companies can maintain their data network and its security while simultaneously managing costs and increasing productivity. Unfortunately, many multi-site businesses end up managing their various locations as multiple businesses rather than a single business which is not only costly but also very inefficient and a major stumbling block for growth. MPLS network, also known as multiprotocol label switching allows companies to address these challenges, but how?

What is MPLS?

Contrary to what most people might think, MPLS is not a service or a type of internet connection, it is more of a technique that helps you use your internet more efficiently. MPLS has been defined as a protocol for shaping and speeding up network flows. This means that MPLS labels, sorts and prioritizes your data packets according to your business needs which effectively increases your available usable and guarantees 100% uptime for your critical applications on private routes.

How Does MPLS Work?

Although we know that MPLS is a networking technique that labels and prioritises types of data, let’s use an analogy to paint a clearer picture.

Let’s think of MPLS as mailing a package from a distant retailer. As you track the package in transit, you might notice the package make random and seemingly illogical stops across the country. This is how most connections work. Networks are required to look inside every data packet at every router to know where to send it next. Imagine having your package opened at every post office before it arrives with you. Wouldn’t it be more efficient and frankly more secure if the package has a destination label on the outside so the package could be sorted and forwarded without lengthy inspections? This is exactly what MPLS does. An ingress router labels the data packets on entry to the network so that routers can quickly and more efficiently direct them where they are going without much delay. This not only adds efficiency but also allows some packets to take priority over others – think of it as ‘express shipping’. Mission-critical data packets take priority over less relevant applications.

In more technical terms, MPLS replaces/switches the long network addresses with short path labels on private routes.

Why is MPLS Important?

MPLS has emerged as a simple, secure telecommunications solution that allows many multi-site businesses to have a solid backbone for cost-effective, secure communications. Additionally, MPLS is a flexible network solution that accommodates and facilitates scalability so companies can create custom solutions for their unique needs. Also, having that MPLS uses path labels for worldwide connections on private routes without special hardware or encryption, this further drives down the cost and increases efficiency. MPLS bandwidth relief also allows for reduced overhead expenses and support.

One thing to note is that even though MPLS networks are unencrypted, they are more secure than a normal internet connection.

Importance of MPLS to Businesses Today

Lower Cost

MPLS can slash down your on-going WAN operating costs by up to 50% depending on your current enterprise-class network while still maintaining a higher level of service and reliability.

Improved Quality of Service

Probably the most cited benefit of MPLS is the ability to assign QoS and classes of service features to traffic. This allows your network to prioritise the most important traffic over other traffic.

Scalability

 The protocol-agnostic nature of MPLS allows many different types of traffic to be carried via MPLS routing regardless of type. Additionally, automatic network configuration allows larger and more complex networks to be scalable according to need.

Is MPLS Dead?

With the emergence of competing technologies such as SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network), Gartner published a crucial report on the future of MPLS. In the report, they noted that even though most enterprises would transition to a hybrid environment with both the public internet and MPLS networks, MPLS would continue to be a fundamental part of the WAN landscape, particularly in multi-site companies.

Going forward, MPLS will continue to play an important part in organisations that rely on time-sensitive applications that require guaranteed delivery such as IP phone traffic, Quickbooks, video conferencing etc.

How Can Your Business Take Advantage of MPLS?

As you continue to grow, guaranteed connectivity will play an ever-growing role in your enterprise. In this regard, it is important to work with a networking specialist that will monitor and analyse your evolving needs and implement the right data networking implement. With close to twenty years in the industry, AdEPT works with a variety of key partners including every major carrier in the UK to ensure we give you the right mix and match of data networking options for your specific needs. Additionally, the AdEPT Nebula offers a comprehensive, reliable, scalable and diverse range of networking and communication solutions from a single provider so you can focus on running and growing your business. We also have a variety of other networking solutions to help you elevate your business to the next level through improved connectivity and productivity. Contact us today to learn more.

Sami Malik

Written by Sami Malik

Marketing Campaigns Manager