How to Get the Most from an MPLS Network

January 19, 2017 mrmardis

How to Get the Most from an MPLS Network
Melissa Coen
Thursday, January 19, 2017 - 12:30 MPLS Network

Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) can be used in a variety of ways to speed the flow of network traffic and improve the process in myriad ways. For instance, it can assist with network infrastructure design to ensure the resulting infrastructure will be stable, maintain a high level of availability, remain secure and maintain optimized connectivity with any and all remote sites.

MPLS reduces costs and enables networks to be segmented appropriately. It is flexible enough to allow businesses and service providers to create next-gen networks – with advanced features and capabilities – across a single infrastructure. This low-cost solution can work with almost any existing network setup, whether Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), Ethernet, Frame Relay or IP. Admins like MPLS because it allows them to better control and manage how traffic is routed across the enterprise network.

Following, we examine more benefits and different configuration features that come with MPLS, so you can get the most out of this networking process.

Benefits of MPLS

Better Speeds: Because of the way in which MPLS attaches labels with pre-assigned transmission paths to various destinations, routing is accomplished much more rapidly than typical table-based IP look-ups.

QoS: Quality of Service is improved across MPLS in that it activates several levels of QoS. Users can configure exact latency, packet loss and jitter minimum thresholds for each specific type of traffic. For instance, voice and video can be prioritized over less-sensitive traffic, if necessary.

24/7/365 Monitoring: MPLS - especially when used through a hosted service provider - is proactively monitored at all times, allowing changes to be made on-the-fly for the best network stability and reliability possible.

Reduced Support Requirements: Since the carrier handles the WAN routing with MPLS, onsite IT staff don’t have to take care of any changes or support requests. As a result, companies save on staffing costs and support is essentially automated.

Ease of Connectivity: With MPLS, it is simple to connect various types of sites with each other, regardless of the traffic content - apps, audio, web or video.

Useful Implementations and Capabilities of MPLS

MPLS can be useful in Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) implementations since it can provide links similar to ATM within an IP network and without the associated costs. MPLS can enable the convergence of voice, video and data services and capabilities. It also provides for advance routing policies and can connect any site to any other site across various protocols. MPLS can also enable secure VPN support, interconnecting WAN and LANs both quickly, as well as securely.

Traffic Engineering

Traffic Engineering (TE) is a good way to use MPLS. TE expands on the traditional routing methodology that uses a metric or cost per link and Shortest Path First (SPF) process to find the shortest path, and adds additional restrictions. For instance, it also looks at other important factors such as the amount of available bandwidth and finds the best path that takes into account all relevant elements.

Virtual Leased Lines (VLLs)

MPLS can be used across Virtual Leased Lines (VLLs) to connect varying types of media such as frame relay to Ethernet. This type of connection makes it easier to migrate older transport protocols to MPLS.

Fast Reroute

This capability provides for faster restorations. Implementing MPLS Fast Reroute can help with convergence during a failure. It works to pre-calculate backup paths for possible link or node connection failures. In a typical IP network, the best path calculations occur on-demand. But, with MPLS Fast Reroute, the next best path calculation occurs before the failure even happens. In this scenario, the backup paths have been pre-programmed into the router and sit, waiting for activation, if necessary.

Link Coloring

Link Coloring, or administrative groups, allows for 32 unique color markings to be placed on a particular link. This can be helpful in defining certain geographic or political boundaries across networks concerning routing paths, as well as grouping certain links with the same “color” into the same class. It can also be used to instruct LSPs to move off a path for maintenance work or in preventing certain kinds of traffic from travelling across specific links or paths.


With all the benefits and features available with an MPLS implementation, shouldn’t your organization consider it today? In fact, your enterprise can gain further benefits by choosing a cloud-based managed network from a proven industry leader. Maxxis, West's MPLS optimization offering, guarantees a network optimized for real-time communications and applications with support and business continuity features provided by a Cisco-certified network operations center.

Video: How West's MPLS Maxxis Network Works

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