MPLS is an acronym for Multi Protocol Label Switching. I will try not to get into the boring technical details, but the magic word here is Multi Protocol. Why would you care? If your company fits the profile, an MPLS network can save you money.
With an MPLS network you can combine different types of data (hence the Multi Protocol) onto one network. You can run VoIP, application data like Human Resource Management software, internet access, a secure multi location LAN etc. at the same time over the same network.
Not only can this save you money by combining these different networks into one MPLS network, it also greatly reduces the cost and resources of managing these networks.
To process all these different types of data, an MPLS network uses several Classes of Service (CoS) to ensure the Quality of Service (QoS) by assigning different profiles to different applications. You can imagine that for VoIP, or video conferencing, speed is more important than for email. You wouldn't care if an email arrived 200 milliseconds later, but such an echo on a phone call sure would be annoying. Thus, by assigning a higher Class Of Service, these packets take priority on the MPLS network.
We've covered the Multi Protocol part of MPLS. But what about the Label Switching? Again I will try not to go too deep into technical details. In a traditional IP network packets (small pieces of data) are routed by destination IP address. In an MPLS network the packages get an extra Label that is used to determine the route it should travel (hence the Label Switching part). This route can be determined by more than just the destination address.
Now as the packet travels through the network, the routers in the network only need to look at the label of the MPLS packet to decide where it should go. With a traditional IP packet the routers inside the network need to look up several routing tables to see where it should go next. You can imagine that this can really slow things down in a larger network.
Can MPLS save ME money?If you answer YES to one or more of the following questions, an MPLS solution could be right for you.
- Does your company have multiple locations?
- Does your company have multiple phone lines AND a data network?