If you don’t stay up to date on IT developments, you might assume that your current business network is as good as it can be.
In actuality, an IT network is something that can be designed in an infinite number of configurations, with pros and cons coming with each way, MPLS is a part of IT networking that could completely change how your business operates, but if you don’t understand the tech, you might not know how best to use it.
That’s why we’re here to explain exactly what an MPLS system is (we’ll try to limit the jargon so it can be understood by non-IT professionals!), as well as some of the advantages you may find that it could bring to your IT system!
What is an MPLS System?
You may have heard some of your IT staff throw around the term ‘MPLS’, but outside of the IT bubble, most people don’t have much of a concept of what it is and what it can do!
MPLS stands for Multi-Protocol Label Switching, and while this might sound daunting, it’s actually a fairly straightforward system.
Basically, a protocol is a language used by devices in a network to communicate. Only, it isn’t quite a language; rather, it’s a set of rules that tell the device how to use the data. If two devices are using the same protocol then the data will be handled in the same way. So, Multi-Protocol just means that the system can be used on networks where many different protocols are being used by the devices within it.
The term ‘Label’ is actually surprisingly similar to how labels work in the real world – a digital label is a little bit of information attached to data as it goes through a network that is then used to identify the level of priority given to the data. This piece of data is a tiny fraction of a KB in size – but is just enough to help the system identify what should be done with the packet of data. The system can then dynamically handle it according to this information – this is where the ‘Switching’ part comes in, as an LSR (Label Switch Router) can read the label and sort the data.
How Could MPLS Help my Business Network?
Beyond the technical details of MPLS, let’s start to think about how it works in real terms.
You can think of MPLS as a traffic management system – without it, your network is only really governed by the available bandwidth (the amount of traffic it can deal with at once). Because no data has priority over any other data, it’s a complete free-for-all, with low priority data from emails or calls taking up space that should be reserved for your most mission-critical applications.
By introducing MPLS, you’re also introducing some orders to your network. By using the labels and route switching we explained above, MPLS can ensure that all of the traffic is routed according to its priority level. For example, if you have a mission-critical system that needs to stay online, MPLS will ensure that it’s marked as the highest possible priority, while less important applications can be placed further down this list.
What advantages can an MPLS system provide for my business?
So, now you understand the ins and outs of MPLS, we can look at what it can do for businesses more specifically:
A Simpler, Easier System
MPLS is a great tool for simplifying the connections between devices and locations. Because a simpler system is invariably easier to maintain, this means that IT professionals will have a far easier time working on your network. Correctly labelled data will be fast-tracked through your network, regardless of geographical distance, allowing a team to work on the network without the interference of extraneous variables.
More Straightforward Expansion To New Sites
Expanding a traditional network is no easy task, and requires a lot of planning and work from your IT team because of the virtual tunnels that need to be set up between your new location and current site. These safeguard the data that goes between the locations, but MPLS completely removes the need for this, making sure that your data will efficiently reach its end goal.
Faster Speeds Across The Network
If you have a hectic IT network, then congestion is bound to occur. It happens when the amount of traffic trying to go through the network is higher than the bandwidth allows, meaning that data has to be dropped and that the quality of your service must be compromised. An MPLS system ensures that traffic will be routed down non-standard paths, allowing data to be delivered quickly and efficiently.
Improved End-User Experiences
Lots of businesses nowadays use cloud-based applications in their daily operations. Although there are plenty of benefits to doing this, you’re also at the mercy of poor performance due to the nature of being cloud-based. The MPLS switching mechanism allows for real-time applications to be boosted, allowing for more consistent service delivery, and a much-improved customer and end-user experience.
How do I implement MPLS?
But this article alone isn’t enough for you to decide on such an important step for your business – you’ll need to do more research and have some talks with your current IT team or MSP. Here are a few more questions you could consider:
- Does your business network service multiple locations?
- Does your business network experience congestion or delays regularly?
- Does your business network handle numerous different data types?
- Does your business depend upon real-time services?
- Is quick expansion to new sites important to your business growth?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, MPLS might be right for you – start looking into good providers and find the best service for your business’s networking requirements and budget. It might take some effort, but it’ll definitely pay off in the long run.