Multi-protocol Label Switching
MPLS may sound like it could be dismissed as another forgettable IT acronym, but the technology offers the potential to provide a business with a highly secure, low cost and highly reliable inter-site networking solution.
MPLS provides a secure and resilient private VPN for inter-site connectivity. The technology foregoes the need to purchase and manage multiple firewalls, as your traffic is routed within your own secure virtual private network. Rather than installing a firewall at each location, all that is needed is a router.
Conceived and developed in the late 90s by the Internet Engineering Task Force, MPLS, (Multi-protocol Label Switching) is a network management protocol originally intended to integrate layer 2 information about network links (bandwidth, latency, utilisation) into layer 3 (IP) elements within a particular system.
While traditional IP networks have no means of labelling, categorising or monitoring the packets that traverse them, Multi-Protocol Label Switching networks solve those IP shortcomings, placing labels on IP packets and providing that labelling function. And because it is an overlay protocol it can operate on top of the IP protocol in the same network without interference. MPLS is not designed to replace IP, rather it is designed to add a set of rules to IP so that traffic can be classified, marked and policed.