Wednesday, November 21, 2012

MPLS Networks Simplified

Have you been hearing a lot of buzz about MPLS networks lately but not exactly sure just what is a MPLS network and how it differs from other networks? Here’s the really simplified lowdown on MPLS technology in less than 3 minutes...

So, why go to all the trouble to set up a “bar coding technology” when IP networks are so prolific? IP works great within your organization where you have complete control of the network. You can manage the traffic, add and subtract resources, and set-up class of service mechanisms to ensure that time sensitive traffic like VoIP or video conferencing isn’t crushed by big data file transfers or backup and restore processes.

Not so on the Internet. Every packet gets the same handling as every other packet. The fault tolerant features of Internet technology pretty much ensure that if packets can’t take one particular path, they can find another more round about way to get to their destination. This is great for TCP/IP applications like file transfers, but deadly for two-way voice and video. No class of service distinctions combined with indeterminate routing wreak havoc in the form of latency and jitter.

This is where MPLS shines. There are no public MPLS networks like the public Internet. They are all owned and operated by particular service providers on a fee basis. You sign up for the MPLS network that you want to use and the provider makes sure that you get first class service.

How is that done? Remember those “bar code” tags? The tags have the extra information about class of service and routing that tell the network how to handle each packet. There is no need for equipment on the network to examine IP or other protocol headers. The tag is all the tag switches or routers need to handle the traffic.

The result of this tagging process is that packets are handled differently depending on their needs. Voice and video conferencing traffic gets priority. Non-critical file transfers get a lower priority. Most of the time, congestion, latency and jitter are not a problem. Since the service provider knows everyone using the network, adequate resources can be provisioned to ensure that traffic from one customer doesn’t interfere with traffic from any other.

There’s another benefit to this tagging technology. It completely frustrates anyone trying to spy on the network traffic using IP tools. They won’t work because the network isn’t running the Internet Protocol. It just transports IP packets from point A to point B. Non-IP traffic gets the same treatment. That’s why MPLS means multi-protocol label switching. Any protocol can be accommodated and all have enhanced security from label switching technology and no public access. MPLS networks are often referred to as MPLS VPN or virtually private network.

Today’s MPLS networks have regional, national and international service footprints. They are easily accessed from just about anywhere using copper wireline or fiber optic connections. Pricing is very attractive, even when you only want to connect two far-flung locations. For multiple sites that need to communicate, MPLS is the go-to technology today.

Does an MPLS network service make sense for your WAN communication needs? Get competitive pricing and features for MPLS networks that support your business needs.

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

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