The Advantage of Managed MPLS Networks
Converge your voice and data networks, save money and offload the WAN management burden.
By: John Shepler
Let’s say your company has offices located all across the country. Each location has its own private local area network , perhaps supporting computer networking, IP telephony, and video conferencing. As stand-alone facilities, things work great. But your enterprise is more than just a collection of geographically dispersed sites. It is an organization with a common mission and processes.
The Strategy of Converging Voice and Data Networks
You decided long ago that you needed to integrate your network facilities to unify the company. There are big efficiency improvements to be gained by not having to support every function at every location. When employees across the country are electronically just as close as those down the hall, you can establish centers of excellence and marshal short term support when there are local overloads.
There’s also the opportunity to avoid toll charges on internal telephone calls when you put your phone system on your own network. That can amount to an enormous cost savings when there is regular communication between sites. Only when you need to go off net, or on to the public switched telephone system, do you pay for local telco lines and, perhaps, toll charges. You can decide whether it makes more sense to have local access at each location or consolidate your lines with ISDN PRI service or SIP trunking.
The trick becomes how to interconnect those far flung business sites. Most companies start out with dedicated point to point T1 lines and move up to faster services, such as Ethernet, DS3 or OC3, as the traffic levels increase. What gets lost in incrementally adding line after line is the opportunity to save cost on WAN network bandwidth. One day you find yourself with a huge portfolio of telecom line charges plus a considerable staff to manage your ad-hoc WAN network.
How MPLS Networks Beat Ad-Hoc Point to Point Lines
What’s better? Today’s answer is managed MPLS networking services. MPLS or Multi-Protocol Label Switching is a “cloud” network designed specifically to link multiple locations with specific connections or in a fully meshed network. What characterizes a fully converged MPLS network is scalable bandwidth, privacy of connections, high reliability with fast response when issues do arise, a service footprint that covers all of your locations, and quality of service controls that ensure high performance for time sensitive applications like enterprise VoIP and real-time two-way video conferencing or telepresence.
That sounds like a tall order, but there are a number of top carriers who specialize in offering private networking services with nationwide footprints. It is even possible to include overseas offices through traffic exchange with carriers in foreign countries. Each of your sites is connected to the cloud through an appropriately sized dedicated access connection. From there the network operator programs your connections into the tag servers that manage network traffic. Even though your share the cloud with other customers, your bandwidth is guaranteed and your connections are private. For the ultimate in security, you can choose to encrypt your data during transit.
Offloading Network Management Costs
By turning your WAN network operations over to a MPLS networking carrier, you unload the burden of constant monitoring and network management, but you’ll also likely realize a significant cost savings. Will quality of service suffer? On the contrary, a top tier carrier has more resources at their disposal than you can afford to manage a nationwide network 24/7. They’ll also have far more bandwidth in their core network than makes sense for any single enterprise. That means you can grow your resources to match the growth in your business without incurring extensive construction delays every time you want to increase throughput between locations.
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