WHAT IS MPLS?
MPLS, or Multiprotocol Label Switching, is a technology designed to speed up network traffic and manage information flow. Each MPLS “packet” is given a label that designates its network path and priority of handling. This helps improve data flow through the carriers’ networks. Instead of determining a route, routers simply pass the packet on.
MPLS is called “multiprotocol” because it is designed for ease of transmission to multiple sites within a company’s network. Labels identify the type of traffic (Video, Voice, Data, etc.) and each type is assigned a priority instruction — when and what order to transmit, where to go, and when to arrive.
What is a Packet?
A “packet” is a single string of information made up of samples from each OSI (Open Source Interconnection) platform layer, which includes instructions for transport, security, networking, identification, and contains the intended information to be transmitted.
What is a Protocol?
Protocols are the particular commands and techniques used in computer networks to create search statements, retrieve transportation instructions, and process other types of information.
Imagine that you have a large bucket of different colored blocks which need to be sorted by color and placed in three separate buckets nearby. You have determined that the red blocks will be sorted first and put in the purple bucket, the orange blocks will be sorted next and put in the green bucket , and finally the blue blocks will be sorted last and put into the white bucket. You do this by gathering all the same colored blocks together and moving them to the appropriate bucket. This is an MPLS circuit! All this “MPLS” sorting and moving happens in split-second timing! AND through miles and miles of network connections and switches. What a marvelous rechnological world, isn’t it?
MLPS Advantages and Pricing
Because of of this protocol transparency, MPLS can work over the smallest circuits (DSL) to gigantic multi-location circuits. It allows for VPN (Virtual Private Networks) to be set up at remote sites, such at an employee’s home (telecommuting). It makes it easy to add and remove sites and thus offers easy disaster recovery to new, temporary locations.
MPLS circuits are fairly competitive with the average pricing at the time of this writing costing around $450 per location. At this price, MPLS is now affordable for companies with as little as two locations.