MPLS WAN – your questions answered

What is MPLS technology?

Multi-protocol Label Switching, or MPLS, is a networking technology that routes traffic intelligently using the shortest path based on “labels” rather than the complex lookups in routing tables at every stop. It helps get traffic to the right places quickly and efficiently, with the labels assigned to each data packet reflecting the priority and controlling the path the packet takes. For example, the fastest, low-latency path would be given over to real-time apps like voice and video, to ensure the requisite high quality.

It is a tried and trusted protocol that organisations have relied on for many years to guarantee network performance, reduce congestion, prioritise bandwidth, speed traffic flows and deliver a better user experience.


What is an MPLS used for?

MPLS is widely used in enterprise networks in a  ‘hub and spoke’ style, where businesses are connecting remote branch offices that need reliable access to centrally located corporate applications and data, whether hosted in a data centre or corporate HQ or other secondary location. Connections can span countries and continents, creating a secure virtual private network that delivers guaranteed performance for real-time traffic.

It is anticipated that MPLS will continue to have a role in the networks of tomorrow, courtesy of its ability to connect specific point-to-point locations running legacy apps that depend on ultra-high reliability; or using a lot of real-time applications like video conferencing that depend on consistent network performance.


Benefits of using an MPLS to deliver your WAN

MPLS has been one of the mainstays of enterprise connectivity for decades and the backbone of national and international WANs. Much of its appeal comes from its predictable performance: Quality of Service (QoS) is excellent with no packet loss and predictably low latency. This manifests itself as an excellent user experience.

MPLS is also considered a secure option. That separation from public internet services removes vulnerability to publicly accessible threat vectors, such as DDoS attacks.

The dynamic prioritisation and rerouting of traffic utilises bandwidth better which in turn lessens network congestion – no more having to reserve a fixed amount of bandwidth for a given use and no more video calls stalling mid-sentence! And not forgetting some of its other advantages, from the network management tools that make it easy to apply changes globally, to its ability to increase uptime through the rapid switching to alternative paths in the event of downtime, to its support for scalable IP VPNS, enabling users to avoid having to set up a complex mesh of tunnels .


MPLS WAN from Redcentric

MPLS has long been at the heart of our resilient core network. It’s the power behind our managed WAN service, ensuring our customers benefit from maximum availability, performance and reliability. It’s an area of continuing investment and continuous improvement – in the skills that provision the connectivity and leverage its capabilities, and in the fundamental network fabric itself: a new backbone network now provides a 100G MPLS network between Manchester, Shoreditch and London’s Telehouse.


How MPLS works with SD-WAN

There has been a lot of talk about SD-WAN – architected with cloud connectivity in mind –  killing off MPLS but the latter’s demise has been somewhat exaggerated. The current consensus is that the future for enterprise organisations will lie in a hybrid WAN infrastructure, balancing performance, agility, resilience, legacy investment and cost.

MPLS will still feature, with additional connectivity supplied by local internet and cellular services; while SD-WAN will be used to orchestrate traffic across a variety of network protocols and topologies. Resilient, predictable MPLS will remain the optimal choice for secure, point-to-point transport for business-critical applications; while lower-cost internet connectivity will be used to provide access to cloud apps and services and to expand the core network out to geographically dispersed locations.

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