In a previous post, we took a close look at the mechanics of the MPLS network, offering an under-the-hood exploration of the versatility of Multiprotocol Label Switching. This time, we want to focus on what all those mechanics make possible.
We talked about the labels that MPLS assigns to the data packets it carries, and how their destination is based on the labels, rather than a router having to look up addresses. One result of this approach is that the MPLS network is able to consistently handle packets that have certain characteristics. These packets may originate from specific ports or consist of traffic composed of certain application types. So, for example, packets carrying voice or video traffic, which are obviously highly delay-sensitive, can be efficiently mapped to low-latency network paths.
As Johna Johnson of Nemertes Research pointed out in a post that may be a few years old but is still very timely, it’s more accurate to think about MPLS not as a service but as a technique. Thus it can be used to deliver most any kind of service. So while the network may be MPLS, it remains the foundation for the plethora of services that are enabled by it.
That’s why we consider an MPLS network as the ideal underpinning for Unified Communications, for example. The network is without a doubt the enabler of efficient, effective converged network and UC strategies, helping enterprises achieve economies of scale by leveraging existing applications across the entire enterprise. As a result, an enterprise can respond quickly to ever-changing business conditions, and build an infrastructure for employee mobility, UC, and rapid deployment of complex, real-time applications.
The flexibility of the Sprint MPLS network is reflected in its support of multiple routing protocols, secure remote access and extranet connectivity, and 4G/3G access for fixed and mobile users. The advantages of the MPLS network make it possible for Sprint to offer seven Classes of Service at no additional charge, and for enterprises to trust in the network’s unparalleled performance at lowering latency and reducing jitter.
It’s worth saying again (because we’re so proud) that our MPLS network was recognized earlier this year for its service level agreements by Frost & Sullivan. Sprint won the 2010 North American MPLS Network Service Level Agreements Product Leadership Award. Frost & Sullivan pointed out at the time that the Sprint MPLS backbone’s “actual network performance, which consistently far exceeds its SLA triggers, (is) among the best in the industry." And more recently the Sprint MPLS network received top honors – for the second year in a row – in Nemertes 2010 Pilothouse Award for MPLS Services.