Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Branching Out With MPLS and VPN

Does you business depend on communicating securely between multiple locations? As more business go to electronic forms and transactions, they are finding that they need more than a FAX machine, overnight mail, or a dial-up connection. A competitive position now requires knowing sales and inventory data in real time, transfer of medical images and CAD drawings in seconds not hours, and delivery of important business documents instantly rather than waiting for mail delivery. What you need is a broadband pipe that connects all your key locations.

The traditional broadband pipeline is the T1 point to point private line. This is a dedicated data connection between two locations that is always available for your exclusive use. When the line isn't transmitting data, it is idling with only enough data being exchanged to maintain line synchronization.

The point to point circuit has the advantages of being exclusive and secure. But these come at a price. Each line connects only two locations. There is no such thing as a mesh network. Companies that need communications among many branch offices have to set up a star network at headquarters to manage the data flow to and from each connected location.

This arrangement works best when all or most communications are between headquarters and each branch, or between a franchisor and multiple franchisees who do not need to talk among themselves.

An alternative arrangement is the MPLS or Multi Protocol Label Switching network. MPLS is an update to the earlier Frame Relay technology. Both types of networks can be set up to allow many to many communications. The network itself is owned by a private networking company that provides connections through it's network "cloud" to each desired location. Then allowed connections are mapped and a CIR or Committed Information Rate (bandwidth) is established. Each location accesses the MPLS network through a tag router and T1 line provided by the network.

For even greater flexibility, Carrier Ethernet can extend your corporate LAN across town or across the country. Ethernet has the advantages of being very familiar and easy to manage by IT departments. It also offers network compatible speeds of 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps and even 1,000 Mbps GigE service. Fiber optic connections need to be in place at each location to achieve these higher bandwidths.

Where cost is a major consideration or there are dozens or hundreds of sites to connect, a VPN or Virtual Private Network may be your best solution. It's called virtual because it uses the public Internet instead of a private network. Privacy is provided through data encryption software in a process called "tunneling." A VPN can be relatively inexpensive because the major portion of the network is already in place and is deployed nearly everywhere, including overseas locations. Your connection to the Internet can be a T1 line, or DS3 for higher bandwidth.

Which communications network is best for your business? Our expert consultants can help you sort through the options and pick the optimum solution based on price and performance. Get started now with a quick online quote inquiry at T1 Rex.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

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