Application Providers Need to Re-Examine to use of MPLS

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 defense.

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. MPLS 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: MPLS is the best way to ensure network performance

It is true that MPLS can ensure consistent latency and uptime, however the same can be accomplished with today’s software-defined connectivity solutions that dictate routes, use redundant connections and have the ability to failover to new routes should a network hop experience an issue. 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 MPLS 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 MPLS use case, but provide far more advanced features and security improvements at a lower cost.

The myths and momentum of MPLS may be keeping it alive for now, as application providers re-examine the use of MPLS, its days are numbered.

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