Every day we speak with IT and product leaders looking for ways to improve the networking component of their application delivery. When the topic of MPLS comes up, there is a predictable groan of resigned disappointment. No one is coming to its defence.
How can a technology that is so widely used, be so uniformly disliked? Normally, technologies with a similar customer satisfaction ranking are dead by now. When you add in the excessive expense, delays of deployment, and general lack of customer support, MPLS should be a technology relic.
However, the industry has survived, and even grown, based on some common misconceptions that the telcos are happy to not correct. These misconceptions result in application providers feeling like they have to renew contracts and deal with the resulting inadequacies. Let’s look at some of the most common myths of MPLS.
Myth #1: MPLS is a private, dedicated circuit
It may surprise many folks who are paying for a ‘dedicated circuit’ does not mean that your connection is 100% isolated from internet traffic. Most often, MPLS vendors sell a combination of both private and internet-based links that form the circuit you are paying for.
Myth #2: MPLS is more secure than using other encryption methods
This is completely false. It is the responsibility of the user to secure the data running over an MPLS connection. Multiprotocol Label Switching is only as secure as the encryption tools and security processes placed around that connection. In other words, securing an MPLS circuit requires the use of additional technologies (and their related expenses) to secure your network connection.
Myth #3: Multiprotocol Label Switching is the best way to ensure network performance
Although Multiprotocol Label Switching can guarantee consistent latency and uptime, modern software-defined connectivity solutions can achieve the same results. These solutions determine routes, utilize redundant connections, and can automatically failover to new routes in case of network issues. Often the optimization provided by software-defined solutions meets or exceeds those provided by MPLS solutions… and does so at a fraction of the cost.
Myth #4: MPLS vendors control a global network to connect me anywhere
No telecom provider has a truly global network. Instead they rely on a web of partnerships to create connections across multiple regions. These partnerships lay in the background but form the necessary connections needed to provide an MPLS service between two locations. The same results can usually be accomplished (and even improved upon) by utilizing encrypted, internet-based tunnels created with modern networking software.
While cloud and data center delivered applications have relied on Multiprotocol Label Switching to connect to customer environments for years, this technology has outlived its useful life. The added expense, supporting solutions and lack of differentiated value have given every application provider a reason to look elsewhere.
Software-defined networking solutions not only satisfy every Multiprotocol Label Switching use case, but provide far more advanced features and security improvements at a lower cost.
The myths and momentum surrounding MPLS may be keeping it alive for now, but as application providers re-evaluate its use, they are limiting its days.