What is Multi-Protocol Label Switching and How Can It Help My Multi-Site Business?

April 11th, 2010 - Get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click here. Aaron O'Keeffe


As an Aussie Broadband business solution specialist one of the questions I get asked often is: What is MPLS? And how can it help me?

MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) is a technology that provides highly secure site to site communications without the need for specialised VPN (Virtual Private Network) hardware at each site. Before MPLS came to fruition it was common practice to install standard internet connections at each site and then purchase expensive VPN hardware that would sit at each site and encrypt and decrypt all of the information that was sent over the links, so that the information on these would be private and secure. The only problem with implementing links in this manner was the overhead put on the internet links and the extra time the VPN hardware took to encrypt and decrypt the information which caused slowness and general inefficiency of the links.

Utilising MPLS technology allows the removal of all VPN hardware at each site; you only need a standard enterprise class router at each site and it also removes all overhead that old fashioned VPN’s put on the links.

Here is a picture explaining what I mean by overhead on the links.

As you can see from this picture MPLS technology handles secure connections much more efficiently than traditional VPN technology thus making your network faster, reliable and above all efficient.

One of the other major advantages of MPLS technology is the ability to apply Quality of Service (QoS) to the links. This has changed the game for Voice over IP (VoIP) quality between offices, with a traditional VPN model it isn’t possible to apply effective QoS to the links, and this means that there was no way to make sure that internet and other traffic didn’t interfere with VoIP quality. One of the ways around this was to install a separate link for all VoIP traffic but this increases cost.

MPLS technology has the ability to maintain QoS on all links thus enhancing the quality of VOIP communications or any other delay sensitive applications or services between offices.

About the author

Aaron O'Keeffe

Aaron works from an office in the tropical Northern Territory, inciting intense jealousy from his Victorian workmates during winter. He’s an expert in IT solutions from the ground up. Aaron is National Sales Manager of Aussie Broadband, which specialises in bespoke telco solutions for corporate and government customers.