When your IT network is running fairly smoothly, it’s easy to forget that there’s room for improvement, especially if you aren’t too familiar with the latest technology. In actuality, your IT infrastructure can be altered in a wide variety of ways, with each technique potentially offering different unique benefits.
One way to get more out of your network is to install an MPLS system, a technology with the capability to completely change your infrastructure for the better – but only if you know-how. In this article, we’ll go through what an MPLS system is, how it functions, and explain what this can mean for your business if you choose to implement one.
The Basics of MPLS
Although IT professionals often speak confidently about MPLS systems, you might feel left behind if you don’t understand the jargon. The first step in grasping what MPLS is is to break down the acronym itself: it stands for Multi-Protocol Label Switching, and while that may sound complicated, it’s surprisingly simple.
A protocol is often described as a language, but it’s actually closer to a list of rules that IT devices use in communication to explain how data needs to be used. This is important, as data sent between two devices can be handled in the same way if they’re working with the same protocol – therefore, ‘Multi Protocol’ means that your MPLS system can function on networks in which multiple protocols are in use.
The ‘Label’ (L) part of the acronym is comparable to how we use labels outside of IT contexts – basically, a tiny amount of data is attached to data going through the network which indicates the level of priority, and consequently how the network should handle it. Finally, the ‘Switching’ part is in reference to how a Label Switch Router is used to understand the label on the packets of data, helping to then send it down the appropriate path.
A Dynamic System
Now that we’ve established what the term means, it’s time to explain how an MPLS system actually functions. You can view it as a way of managing the data traffic in your network; without this system, the traffic is only really managed by the available bandwidth (the amount of data that it can manage at a given time). All data types are treated equally, so less important things like non-urgent emails and low priority video chats are occupying space that more vital data needs to keep your business running.
In short, a network without an MPLS system is more than a little chaotic. But with the assistance of a route switching system like this, the traffic can be routed much more intelligently, according to how vital it is. Anything designated as mission-critical will be marked as the highest possible priority, placing them much higher in the hierarchy than less important applications, and meaning that there’s a lower chance of important data being delayed.
The Business Benefits of MPLS
Now we know how MPLS works, what can it do to improve your business network in less tech-based terms? Let’s take a look at some of the headlines and what they mean:
A Simpler Network To Maintain
Installing an MPLS system hugely simplifies the connections between devices and locations in a network, and as is the case with any kind of system, the more simple it is, the easier it is to maintain and troubleshoot. Because of how the data is labelled, it can be fast-tracked along your network, taking away extraneous variables that can hinder maintenance work from professionals.
You’ll likely have experienced the irritation of a poor connection during busier times in the office – this is down to congestion, which occurs when the amount of traffic attempting to pass through your network is higher than the bandwidth, meaning that data must be dropped. MPLS reroutes traffic onto non-standard paths, meaning that all your data will be delivered quickly and in order of importance.
Better Experiences for End Users
The majority of businesses nowadays use cloud-based applications in their day-to-day operations, and although there are certainly lots of benefits to this practice, these applications can also often experience problems arising from poor network connections. By implementing the switching technique employed by MPLS systems, you can make sure that these applications are always running at their optimum, allowing them to operate more reliably and quickly. For your end users, this means the information and systems they need are immediately to hand – and, in turn, this means that your customers are getting lightning fast service from the people on the other end of the telephone.
It’s well known by both business owners and IT staff alike that expanding a network isn’t an easy task – virtual connections need to be set up between the new location and your current office, not always the simplest task. But with an MPLS system, you can ensure that your data is always taking the best route to its destination, without requiring this extra safeguarding.
Is MPLS The Right Decision For Your Business?
Although we’ve provided some advice here on whether your business should invest in an MPLS system, the decision still lies with you and your IT staff. There are still a few additional variables you may want to consider, such as:
- Whether your network services different locations
- If you depend on real-time services
- If your business would benefit from bringing new sites onboard more quickly
- Whether your network regularly experiences delays and congestion
- Whether your network handles numerous data types
If any of these situations are the case, then the next step in implementing an MPLS system is to look into the best provider to maintain it for you – this definitely isn’t a one size fits all process, but it’s one that you’ll need to pay close attention to if you want to get the most out of the tech.