Every day we speak with companies looking for ways to improve the cost and performance of their application’s connectivity. 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? Typically, technologies with a similar customer satisfaction ranking are dead by now. When you also add in the excessive expense, delays of deployment and general lack of customer support, Multiprotocol Label Switching should be a technology relic.
However, the industry has survived, and even grown, based on some common misconceptions that they are happy to not correct. These misconceptions result in companies feeling like they have to renew contracts and deal with the resulting inadequacies.
Let’s look at some of the most common misunderstandings about MPLS:
Misconception #1: MPLS is a private, dedicated circuit
It may surprise many folks paying for a ‘dedicated circuit’ does not mean that your connection is secluded 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.
Misconception #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.
Misconception #3: Multiprotocol Label Switching is the best way to ensure network performance
Multiprotocol Label Switching can ensure consistent latency and uptime, however the same can be accomplished with 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 Multiprotocol Label Switching solutions.
Misconception #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.
While many have relied on Multiprotocol Label Switching for years and continue to work around its shortcomings, this technology has outlived its useful life. Software-defined solutions not only meet all of the reasons that many folks chose MPLS in the first place but provide feature enhancements and security improvements that MPLS cannot touch.