MPLS Mesh Network Advantages
A fully meshed MPLS network is a cost effective way to link multiple business locations.
By: John Shepler
Once your business has expanded to include additional locations, like branch offices, offsite data centers, factories or warehouses, you need a way to get all those locations on the same network for data, voice or both. The latest and greatest way to do that is the MPLS Mesh Network.
Basic Connections For Two Locations
Companies with two locations don’t generally start off with an MPLS network. What they do is buy a point to point T1 line or Ethernet Line service to link the locations. T1 is the traditional P2P telecom service. Ethernet line service is newer and offers the ability to link twoLANs at the layer 2 switching level.
So, who needs an MPLS network for two locations?
Maybe you do. The reason isn’t that you need the multiple site connectivity that MPLS makes easy. It’s a matter of cost. Depending on the availability of T1 or Ethernet point to point service, you might be better off getting T1 or Ethernet last mile connectivity to a much larger MPLS network. The major incumbent and competitive carriers have regional, nationwide or international service footprints. If your two locations are across the country rather than across town, it’s conceivable that taking advantage of an MPLS network for the long haul span might actually have a cost advantage.
Moving Up to Three Locations
Now, let’s consider the business with 3 or more locations. You can still use the point to point line strategy to link them. If you try to create a mesh network with P2P lines from each location to every other location, you’ll find this topology gets pretty expensive pretty fast. What many companies have done is create a star network with point to point lines radiating out from company headquarters to each remote location. All traffic gets routed through HQ regardless of where it is going.
The Cost Of Being Your Own WAN Network Provider
When you do this, you are effectively becoming your own WAN network provider. It has the advantage of giving you complete control of the network on a instantaneous basis. But it costs you the staffing needed for constant vigilance and the need to establish new long distance P2P lines every time another location is added. The cost goes up linearly as you add locations because there is no economy of scale when it comes to dedicated point to point data lines.
MPLS Offers Economy of Scale Cost Savings
Where you do get economy of scale is by sending your traffic over a privately run MPLS network. All those P2P lines are replaced by access network connections at each location to be served. The lines are only long enough to reach the carrier's local point of presence, and priced accordingly. The carrier then sets up paths through its core network to interconnect your locations as you specify. You can specify which locations can connect to which other locations and how much bandwidth they have available. The MPLS connections can be set up as fully meshed so that every location can interact with every other location.
Works Well For Network Convergence
Beyond that, MPLS networks can easily handle fully converged voice, data and video networks so that you can include your telephone service and video conferencing on the same network. That can be an enormous cost saver for companies with business sites spread over many states, or with international locations included.
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