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MPLS is short for Multi-Protocol Label Switching. Unlike many other things mentioned on this site MPLS is not a product or a service as such but more of a technique. 

It is a telecommunications network routing technique that directs data from one node to the next using short “path labels” rather than the standard method of long network addresses. This avoids the complex routing table lookups and speeding traffic flows which non-MPLS packets must go through. 

How does MPLS work? 

When MPLS is not being used, every router on a business’s internet network must look inside every data packet to determine where it should be sent next. Imagine your package being opened at each post office before it reaches you. Isn’t it more effective and, frankly, safer to have a destination label on the outside of the package so that it can be sorted and forwarded without long inspections? 

This is precisely what MPLS accomplishes. When data packets enter the network, an ingress router labels them so that routers can quickly and effectively direct them where they need to go. This not only improves efficiency, but it also allows for the prioritisation of some packets over others – think of it as “express shipping.” Priority is given to business-critical data packets over less important applications. 

Hearing this, you might be wondering why this is important or how it could benefit your business. Our team has put together this guide to the key benefits of MPLS. 

What are the benefits to a business of using MPLS? 

  • Speed 
    When it comes to data transmission, speed is unquestionably one of the most important factors for a business. A modern business relies on extremely fast and efficient information transmission throughout the world. MPLS provides this simply by employing a labelling method that prioritises data transmission over the shortest path possible. 
    As the packets are assigned set labels rather than long network addresses, the time taken to look up the destination on each packet is significantly lower. Multiply that by the number of packets sent by a busy office and one can quickly see that MPLS would lead to a significant speed increase. 
  • Efficiency & Performance 
    There are fewer node “stops” & ”hops” due to the nature of MPLS, and data is transmitted more quickly. Organisations which utilise MPLS normally have better response times, faster load times, and improved application performance. 
  • Reliability 
    MPLS networks are less likely to crash or overload as the data has multiple network paths available and the time spent to process and perform lookups for each data packet are significantly reduced. This makes it easier to provide a continuous, dependable service to both your customers. 
  • Priority 
    As well as labelling your data packets with their destination, you can also label them by their importance. This allows you to prioritise data which is vital to your business to ensure that it is transferred across the network first. For example, if you run a call centre, you would want to prioritise business VoIP data over everything else to ensure that your calls with your customers were always reliable and unlikely to drop out. Other business may prioritise their data backups or cloud services. At Carden Telecoms, we can help you to configure your own custom MPLS labelling, prioritising the data which is most vital to your business. 
  • Security 
    MPLS does not provide encryption itself, but it is technically a virtual private network that is isolated from the rest of the Internet. As a result of this, MPLS is regarded as a secure mode of transport. It is also immune to denial-of-service attacks, which can cripple other IP-based networks. 

We hope this has been a useful overview of what Multi-Protocol Label Switching is and how it can help to make a network faster and more efficient. If you are interested in implementing MPLS within your business, get in contact with us today. Our team can analyse and map your network and help determine the most efficient labelling system to give you the maximum benefit. 

Author: Dave King

Dave King is the Co-Founder and Director of Carden Telecoms and the wider Carden IT Group. Dave is experienced in business telecoms with a focus on cloud telephony and connectivity services.

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