What is Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS)?


Multi-Protocol Label Switching is a term used in networking to refers to a technique of handling data packets in an efficacious manner. In essence, it provides sophisticated guidelines regarding how packets of data should be routed within a network in such a way that issues such as low traffic quality are reduced. This method of data packet handling is usually used in various networks including ethernet networks, VPNs and the public Internet.

How MPLS Works

The role of MPLS is to ensure that data packets are routed from place to place in the most efficacious manner possible. Label switching is key to this process. In essence, it involves labeling of information packets. Typically, such labels contain data such as their source, location and destination. With MPLS, the labeling is more advanced, and includes information such as the type of information that the packet contains.

The labeling information is then used to assign a Forwarding Equivalence Class to each data packet. By doing this, MPLS ensures that data packets that need to reach their destination fast, such as video conferencing data, is forwarded using low latency pathways. Data that has a lower priority is routed using slower pathways, ensuring that the network is efficient. In essence, it is one of the best ways of managing network resources.

Other Ways in Which Multi-Protocol Label Switching Can Be Used

MPLS as described above is normally used for non-public networks such as VPNs. However, MPLS also has applications in the public internet. The use of MPLS in this domain is more or less similar to how it is used in private networks: to ensure that data is first prioritized and then sent along pathways determined by their priority levels. Within companies that use VPNs, MPLS can be set up in such a manner that it conforms to the company’s protocols. For instance, if the company considers some types of data as high priority, then the MPLS can be modified to suit this business model.

The Role of Traffic Engineering In Multi-Protocol Label Switching

The improvement or personalization of protocols such as Multi-Protocol Label Switching is done through traffic engineering. This is the key to reducing the cost of networking, but without sacrificing the network’s performance. The result is a low-cost but high-performance network. In this manner, it is useful when customizing IT infrastructure such as cloud services and colocation. The more these protocols are refined, the better the network performance and the lower the cost of using them.

If you are setting up IT infrastructure for any reason, you should consider using MPLS to manage your data traffic. It can go a long way in reducing the cost of bandwidth, and also ensuring that the network performs to the exact specifications that you want. The good thing is that once MPLS has been set up, you can reap the benefits for a long time before the need to review and refine the protocol. MPLS is often disregarded, but it can have huge benefits when set up just right.