MPLS

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Compare The Market | DIY, Co-Managed and Fully Managed MPLS Services

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Summary

Today’s digital market and competitive edge is shaped by how and when a business provides its IT services and solutions to its customers. Customers want access to applications, systems, and services on-demand, without interruption, and timely. These goals remain paramount as innovation, quality, and availability continue to rank high amongst priorities in what businesses need to remain current in an ever-changing market. To do this successfully, performance and reliability of digital services are key to maintaining consistent connections and providing assurance that they will continue despite business changes.

Businesses continue to find different ways to deliver services that are transparent and seamless to its customers. For years, MPLS has provided access to computing services by connecting wide area networking across multiple sites and locations that require reliable communications and transmissions. It is a proven method of ensuring that networking continues regardless of how many users, applications, or systems access the same network.

The introduction of cloud computing has created a wave of software-based networking and topologies that are flexible, secure, and cost efficient. MPLS, by design, was not created to scale to the cloud; however, because data centers and legacy, high powered and performance driven computing continues across industries, it still is a major player in networking and future design solutions. And, as a continued solution in the realm of connecting WAN architectures and providing reliable transmission, MPLS can be used with cloud computing solutions and virtual networking.

Summary

What is managed MPLS?

Layer 3 Multiprotocol Label Switching or MPLS is a transmission method used for telecommunication services that provide routing of network traffic based on labels rather than network addresses. Traffic is labelled and prioritized to ensure the best and shortest transmission path based on business needs. With MPLS traffic uses both Layer 2 and 3 of the OSI model, allowing it to function like a virtual private network (VPN). It is configured to direct data so that higher bandwidth systems and applications are accessible and available when customer demand is high.

Is MPLS dead?

For over 20 years, MPLS has been providing network computing that has been proven to run efficiently and smoothly, under increased bandwidth needs, all while providing architectures that combine high demand applications and technologies and lower demand applications that are necessary, but do not require as much bandwidth as its counterparts. Although savvy in its ability to label, provision, and provide the availability desired for networking components, it was not created with cloud computing in mind; therefore, cloud computing architectures have been built around the capabilities that MPLS provide.

As digitalization has advanced to include cloud first business strategies that are lower in cost and in some instances easier to implement, MPLS appeal has declined. Small and mid-size businesses that neither have physical data centers nor centralized locations for computing may not be looking to implement MPLS, simply because their business needs may require a smaller scale solution. On the contrary, data centers continue to be hugely important to large businesses, such as telecommunications, governments, manufacturers, and financial industries where MPLS technologies can be incorporated into cloud architectures and can support existing WANs and business growth.

What are the advantages of using MPLS?

MPLS provides reliable transmission and has been around for countless years, have served enterprises of different sizes, and provides high quality connections. For businesses, the user experience is consistent and typically uninterrupted by frozen applications or dropped sessions. Because it routes and transmits data to help move it along its most appropriate path, it provides accuracy and timely communications that travel along the Internet simply does not have.

What is MPLS QoS (Quality of Service)?

Quality of Service (QoS) is used to manage network bandwidth in MPLS architectures. It includes the technical aspects of handling uptime, jitter, and latency on the network. How traffic is labelled and classified directly relates to how QoS requirements are used to manage traffic. With QoS, rules are set for traffic routing, and each correspond to labelling and switching of the traffic as it reaches each router. Administration of these rules can be manually adjusted for each MPLS configuration and will change depending on the business and its WAN.

How MPLS can be accessed via Cloud vendors such as AWS, Azure, Google.

VPNs that are created based on MPLS can connect into cloud computing services provided by vendors such as AWS, Azure, and Google, since the implementations are complementary. MPLS’ private nature allows it to be a good candidate for secure cloud access, since public access is prevented by default. Cloud models that are “pay as you go” and “pay as you use” are very similar to how MPLS bandwidth capacity costs increase over time. The costs are not the same, but the model is similar in nature; potentially making bandwidth requirements decrease with cloud integration.

What is the difference between public and private MPLS?

By design, MPLS creates a secure private virtual network that businesses can utilize for access to its business networks. MPLS is not architected to provide a publicly accessible network, but rather internal networking capabilities for its customers. To become public, router capabilities via a cloud, virtual or other Internet-based router must be used to provide access beyond the internal network. SD-WANs and SASE security can be beneficial in building a secure architecture to manage risks associated with making MPLS publicly available.

MPLS vs SD WAN – explain the differences and why SD WAN is required for public cloud consumption with SASE security.

MPLS requires dedicated hardware, while SD-WAN solutions are software driven. With a software driven solution, it is much easier to provide real-time configurations and access to business applications and network services without interruption. SD-WAN allows for quicker, faster management of user access and because it is used with cloud computing, it can provide access to cloud applications that are not inherently attainable with MPLS alone. MPLS is private by design and requires integration support from solutions such as SD-WAN to be able to access.

What are the Pros of Managed SD WAN?

MPLS Pros & Cons

Consider the items below when creating your vendor shortlist.

Pros

  • Works well in data center environments.
  • Scalable and configurable for business with centralized computing.
  • Can be integrated into cloud computing architectures.
  • Pre-planned routing provides high bandwidth services and application preference amongst lower bandwidth needs
  • Predictable and reliable, cost savings can be achieved over time.
  • Performance is proven to be consistent and effective. Has been used for 20+ years and has proven track record for uptime and availability.
  • Multiple vendors available to implement routing solutions.
  • Efficient, consistent performance.

Cons

  • Was not created with cloud computing in mind and must be engineered to fit.
  • Difficult to scale in cloud environments where bandwidth requirements increase.
  • Must be architected to work well with cloud computing. Does not integrate well by design.
  • Routing must be provisioned and planned, making deployment changes on the fly difficult to administer
  • More expensive than using Internet and other communication methods
  • Cheaper solutions can be leveraged to provide similar performance targets.
  • May require vendor specific hardware that will be difficult to exchange/change in future.
  • Expensive, time consuming to implement.
Resources

MPLS Service Components

IT teams should consider the following components when comparing MPLS services.

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