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Multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) and Virtual Private Networks (VPN’s) are essential in the modern age of business communication in an internal network with growing complexity. When communicating between various local offices, you will need to be able to rely on high security and high speed. So, what are they exactly and how do they work? 

In this article, you will get a little introduction to MPLS and VPN and what they can mean for your business. 

The top benefits of MPLS

MPLS is essentially a particular type of routing protocol to provide a more efficient routing path for data travel compared to traditional routing techniques. Labelled packets that contain grouped data and information are used to identify the optimal routing path to deliver the most efficient data exchange. 

VPN more traditionally uses IP lookups to determine the most efficient routing path while ensuring security and privacy via encryption of data. VPN is also popular for private use where people use it to access geo-blocked content on streaming services.    

What exactly can you expect to get out of either MPLS or VPN? Key benefits of MPLS-VPN solutions include:    

  • Increased scalability
  • Improved performance
  • Better broadband exploitation  
  • Reduced load on the network
  • Improved user experience
  • Strong security

MPLS or VPN?

Though both MPLS and VPN can provide a secure and anonymous network with higher connection speed. Choosing between the two options can be difficult as each brings its own unique benefits and limitations. MPLS usually operates on a smaller network than VPN and does not use IP lookups. This can provide a superior network speed compared to VPN’s.      

MPLS may also be less at risk for attempts of hacking, but as the data is not encrypted like with VPN’s, your privacy may be compromised in cases of unwelcomed access in the private network. MPLS is ideal if you need to run critical real-time applications across your network. VPN on the other hand is the best cost-saving option but does not deliver the same level of connection speed and quality-of-service (QoS). 

What are the alternatives?

When discussing high-performance private networks, the term SD-Wan (Software-Defined Wide Area Network) usually pops up. SD-Wan is a new alternative for creating an efficient and private network – in fact, its speed will likely be better than MPLS or VPN. SD-Wan does not rely on rooted and pre-planned paths, making it more flexible.

Advocates for SD-Wan usually highlight its significant agility and flexibility, so why may it not always be the go-to solution? Reasons for not selecting SD-Wan is that you cannot expect a guaranteed performance level as the solution relies on the less reliable open internet. Companies may also prefer MPLS because of high demands from security and connectivity. 

What to do?

Whichever alternative for optimising your private network infrastructure, it is important to fully understand your needs and requirements for network routing. A cost-benefit analysis of each alternative can help you with getting a clearer overview to help you with selecting the best choice for your operations.    

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