As a business owner, you may find at some point that you want to grow your IT business network – but it’s easy to get lost in a sea of complicated IT terms. It’s perfectly reasonable to be a little intimidated at first when you hear about MPLS, but don’t let the acronym put you off – understanding this kind of networking tech could bring huge benefits to your business.
In this article, we’ll clarify what this term means, what the technology might be able to offer your business, and how you can implement it into your company.
It’s best to start by explaining what this jumble of letters means: MPLS means ‘Multi-Protocol Label Switching,’ and it tends to be talked about along with improving connections. However, this isn’t referring to connecting your business network to the rest of the web; it’s actually a more efficient way of sending the data that moves within your network.
Essentially, the ‘MP’ at the start of the acronym means that it’s a way of managing data that works no matter what language – or protocol – the devices on the network use when sending data back and forth. The ‘L’ is talking about the ‘label,’ a small piece of data attached to the end of the other data traveling over your network. This is added so that a Label Switch Router – the switching ‘S’ part of the acronym – can sort out the data based on this information.
Sending Data Over A Network
If you’re struggling to understand how this works, it helps to visualize this system as similar to the postal system, with thousands of letters being sent all around the world. Instead of having drivers thoughtlessly set off for the first location on a list when the very next address was next door to the starting point, the system can identify the priority and destination, with the MP part meaning that the data can be understood without an issue.
The switching part then means that the delivery order priority of the letters can be changed on the go to the way that makes the most sense in terms of efficiency, improving speed, and results.
How MPLS Can Benefit Your Business
Now that we’ve gone over how MPLS works and why it can be helpful, but we need to put it into the context of a business to make the benefits clearer. After all, beyond the specific tech, you need to know whether it’s an investment that your business should make! Let’s take a look at some of the upsides of implementing this technology:
Streamlining Your Network
You can view an MPLS connection between two locations that are far apart as like a super long ethernet cable that stretches to connect the sites. Obviously, it isn’t quite as simple as this in practice, with lots of hops required in between the devices, but if you have an MPLS system that provides the right labels, you can speed up and simplify how this data is carried along. Removing extraneous variables is also very useful for any IT professionals who might be sorting out issues within your network.
As we said earlier, implementing an MPLS system means that the priority of your data is being dynamically handled. Therefore, if you have a real-time system that you want to keep running, then you can tell your MPLS system to prioritize it highly. To achieve this, it will then intelligently borrow bandwidth from different data traffic to ensure that this system can operate at its best, even with a strain from different apps.
Business networks often have a lot of data to handle, which can lead to regular instances of congestion when lots of different types of data are being sent back and forth. By using an MPLS system, each kind of traffic can be routed through different, non-standard paths; this will result in quicker data delivery and reduce the impact that heavy traffic can have on wait times.
Enhancing the User Experience
More and more businesses are utilizing real-time and cloud-based applications in their day-to-day running, giving end-users the ability to provide the best possible experience for customers. However, these end-user tasks can be hit hard by poor network performance – the MPLS switching mechanism prevents the experience from turning sour. For anyone who has dealt with network latency or even data loss from a connection completely freezing, this can be game-changing.
Speeding Up Expansion
Most traditional approaches to expanding network infrastructure involved configuring a complicated ‘mesh’ of tunnels for data that safeguard routes through wider circuits, meaning that data could be delivered relatively quickly. MPLS systems are quicker and simpler, dynamically finding the best route for data and completely superseding the requirement for a more complex structure.
If you simplify any kind of system, IT or otherwise, it becomes much easier to manage. Although managing complex networks typically isn’t a problem for professional IT teams, the demand for greater management also invariably increases the possibility of human error. If you can reduce the need for humans to mess around inside your IT network, then you’re also reducing the chance of downtime for your business, which results in not just a better customer experience, but also the potential of huge savings.
Introducing MPLS Into Your Business Network
If you’re still unsure whether an MPLS system is the right investment for your business, there are a few more questions that you might want to consider:
- Does your network ever experience severe congestion?
- Do you utilize your business network for voice and data?
- Would you like to reduce the downtime that your business experiences?
- Does your network contain lots of different types of data that use the same few connections?
- Do you require the quick provisioning of sites for future business expansion?
Although there’s still plenty more research to be done, if your answer to any of these questions is yes, you may find that MPLS could be hugely beneficial for your business. The next step would be to consider finding a good provider for this potential system – after all, you’ll need to find a service that suits you well and that makes the most of this new technology.