Branch offices, retail franchise operations, warehouses, factories and medical centers are no longer isolated entities. Once, the public telephone system was enough to tie related locations together. That phone system was also pressed into service to transmit information rapidly using FAX and then dial-up Internet access. Broadband Internet using a dedicated high bandwidth wireline service followed for direct digital transmission. Other dedicated lines were used as secure point to point connections for sharing sensitive business documents.
Some companies desired more complex networking arrangements, linking every location to every other location in a fully meshed wide area network. One way to do that is to roll your own star network with point to point dedicated lines to the main office. Frame Relay networks came about as a way to outsource all that networking and the high cost of so many dedicated lines. But Frame Relay was never planned to run at the bandwidths we need today.
What MPLS VPN networks do is provide a private networking solution that outsources the problem of connecting many diverse locations. The cost of operating the network is shared among the user base, which makes it very cost effective for each user compared to running their own completely private network.
Unlike the Internet, a MPLS VPN has security built-in and performance characteristics of the network are carefully controlled. This is especially important for companies that want to converge their voice, data and video networks into a single network that can carry all traffic. There are big cost advantages in network convergence. But it’s all for naught unless you can guarantee quality of service for all your traffic. MPLS networks have Class of Service mechanisms to ensure that bandwidth, latency, jitter and packet loss are carefully controlled.
MPLS VPN security is based on using a proprietary tag or label switching protocol in place of standard IP routing. As soon as IP packets are received by the provider edge router, they are inspected and a MPLS label is attached. It’s that label that is used to route the packets while they are on the network. It’s removed as they exit the network. It’s like the MPLS network is speaking a foreign language within its service footprint.
MPLS networks are also easily scalable. If you build your own network from T1 lines or DS3 services, it can be a nightmare to upgrade bandwidth across the network. With an MPLS solution, you simply request additional resources from the service provider. You can also add or delete service locations much easier than you may be able to with long haul point to point line services. You only need an access connection to the MPLS “cloud” which is at the service provider’s nearest point of presence.
Can an MPLS VPN network be advantageous to your business? Get recommendations and competitive price quotes for MPLS VPN services now.