MPLS stands for "Multiprotocol Label Switching." The important word is "label," which is what it uses to direct traffic. Internet-data packets typically make several hops from one router to another before reaching their final destination. All the routers know where the packet needs to end up, but each one makes its own decision about where it will go next.If you've ever followed the online tracking of a post-office package, you've seen something similar. You bring the package to the local post office. It sends it to a central office, and from there it goes to another central office closer to the recipient. Then it's sent to a local post office, and finally it's delivered. You don't write on the package where it should go at each step.

 

With MPLS, a router creates a label that says exactly what path the packet should follow. This offers a couple of advantages. First, it saves subsequent routers the overhead of looking up the next destination. Second, it allows more detailed traffic control. An MPLS network can give certain types of traffic—such as real-time voice conversation—higher priority, making it easier to meet QoS requirements.

This doesn't mean MPLS depends on a rigid set of routers that never fail. The Fast Reroute feature provides a backup path at each point, in case the label's primary path is unavailable. This provides quick recovery from node failures.

An MPLS network with traffic-engineering support dynamically determines the best paths and updates its labels accordingly. The shortest path isn't always the fastest, and traffic engineering takes performance results into account.

In an MPLS network, each data packet receives a label that determines the best path to the final router — because the shortest path isn't always the fastest if it's congested. An MPLS network is far more efficient than a traditional Internet Protocol (IP) network, which has to repeatedly perform IP "routing lookups" to make a series of hops. MPLS ensures that the data packets quickly reach their intended destination, and it can even prioritize the packets so that some traffic receives preferential treatment. As a result, a business can make sure its most important applications have adequate bandwidth to perform optimally.

The following are benefits associated with using MPLS networks:

Enhanced User Experience

MPLS is ideal for businesses that wish to isolate specific types of traffic, including Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), video or data. For example, if your company often streams such high-bandwidth content as video, MPLS can improve your bandwidth utilization and eliminate latency by borrowing capacity from less important traffic streams. Or, if you own a telemarketing company, you might prioritize VoIP, so you don't experience dropped calls or voice distortion.

MPLS can also reroute traffic if there is a network interruption, improving uptime and speed. You can be assured that your business will always be running at full capacity — and will never lose revenue needlessly.

With MPLS's quality-of-service (QoS) management that caters to your business's specific needs, your business will ensure customer satisfaction.

Improved Mobility and Connectivity

MPLS allows employees in different locations to connect to company information and communicate with coworkers via a single virtual private network (VPN). With the freedom of the cloud, your employees will enjoy complete mobility whether they are in the office, on the road, or at home.

Increased Security

MPLS offers enhanced security for all companies — but it's a must for those enterprises that deal with sensitive data, such as health or financial records. MPLS will block denial-of-service (DoS) attacks and unauthorized network access through control- and data-plane protection. Your business will enjoy peace of mind that it is providing vigorous safeguards against unwanted intrusions.

Congestion Management

Most switching technologies use protocols that transmit data by following the shortest path between two locations. The selected shortest path may have some technical difficulties leading to transmission latency. MPLS employs sophisticated algorithms to route traffic via non-standard paths when there is congestion somewhere along the network.

Scalability

Conventional switching technologies require the configuration of a sophisticated labyrinth of tunnels whenever the need to add a site on an existing virtual private network (VPN) arises. MPLS allows additional sites with minimal setup configuration, which helps to expand the network quickly without extended downtime.

Enhanced Bandwidth Utilization

Since multiple types of data traffic use the same link for transmission, optimal bandwidth utilization is achievable. MPLS allows high-priority traffic to consume some of the low-priority traffic channels whenever needed. The vice versa applies, such as during the night when high-priority data streams like VoIP are not in use.