Monday, September 28, 2009

MPLS Networks As The Universal WAN

Most companies have a Wide Area Network or WAN connection of some type. It might be a point to point T1 data line or a suite of them. It might be ISDN PRI or SIP Trunking for digital telephone service. It might be a DS3 connection for dedicated Internet access. But what if there was a WAN network that could provide all of these services and more? There is. It’s called MPLS.

MPLS is short for Multi-Protocol Label Switching. It’s a standards-based technology that is something of a “jack of all trades” or “Swiss Army knife” in the telecommunications industry. The multi-protocol designation says it all. This is a network technology that supports many different protocols. No longer do you need completely separate services to support telephone, VPN, point to point connections, video conferencing, and so on.

An MPLS network is a private network that is operated to guarantee bandwidth and performance. That differentiates it from the Internet, which is more of a public resource with no guarantees - just “best effort” service. MPLS service providers can QoS or quality of service to meet your business needs. That ensures that VoIP telephone and video streaming will get the bandwidth, latency and jitter characteristics they need for optimum performance.

The predecessor to MPLS was Frame Relay, also a private networking arrangement designed primarily for lower bandwidth services and requiring considerable engineering work to set-up for each customer. Frame Relay networks are now being largely replaced by MPLS networks.

One thing that Frame Relay networks offer is the ability to interconnect multiple business locations securely. MPLS networks offer that same capability. As a private network, access is limited and strictly controlled. That makes VPNs or Virtual Private Networks readily available over MPLS. Security is also inherently high because all packets are routed using network specific labels and not IP or other addresses. You can, of course, add encryption to your data to make it even more secure and it traverses the MPLS network and last mile access connections.

The MPLS network can be thought of as a cloud that is accessible from many locations. Your service can be set up for a single point to point connection, a hub and spoke replacement for central offices serving many remote locations, or a fully meshed network where any site can communicate with any other site. You specify the types of connections you want and the network provider sets up the label switching routers to provide this specific service. If you need to add locations or change the way you want to connect, there are no wiring changes that need to be made. The network provider will simply reprogram your service to meet your new specifications.

Do you have a need for secure and reliable communications among two or more geographically diverse business locations? If so, an MPLS network solution may offer you the least cost for the performance you require. The best way to find out is to shop for MPLS network options now.

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

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