MPLS vs. Internet

Local Access

Generally, the type of Internet or network access is irrelevant if the performance and repair commitments are up to needs. We’ve learned to be a little leery of wireless but fiber, cable, Ethernet or other hard-line stuff (T1s, T3s, DSL, etc) are all acceptable.

The choice typically comes down to business requirements being met and what prices are being offered by the carriers. Regardless of which you choose, MPLS/Internet for your network or copper/wireless/fiber for your local access, the performance and maintenance commitments matter: guaranteed through-put, latency, response to outage, MTTR, etc.

MPLS / Internet characteristics and differences between the two technologies

Affant’s experience regarding MPLS vs. Internet is that we have seen good results from both and most importantly; data/voice traffic can be secured across either medium.

MPLS is hosted within a single carrier’s network.The good in this is that potential latency and additional points of failure are not introduced by having to traverse multiple carriers’ backbones.However, it also means that if you add additional locations to your network you are limited to your specific MPLS carrier.If your MPLS network is through Sprint, you will need Sprint access at whatever new location you desire to add.

MPLS does not always mean that Internet is provided.There are two ways to address this:

A) Purchase an “Internet hop-off” through the MPLS carrier.This is where the carrier provides a “hop-off” path inside of their network for you and other clients to use.Do not confuse this with Internet directly to your location.An Internet hop-off in the MPLS cloud can affect services such as HTTP(S), SMTP, VPN clients etc as you don’t control the public block of addresses, the carrier does so they will have to set up a pretty tricky NAT or sell you their hosted solution.

B) Purchase a separate Internet connection through the same carrier or another.This will require a device to terminate the connection and route appropriate traffic to it and in the right conditions will provide some redundancy to your network.

MPLS is touted by carriers to be secure.This is untrue; it is actually less secure due to the lack of encryption.Carriers tend to say data is secure because it is “in their network”, in truth, your company’s sensitive data is riding in the “open” on the carrier’s network with no encryption.If someone were to tap into the [little green] telecom box out on the corner of the street by your office, they would have full unrestricted access to your unencrypted data. If your network traffic were to fall into anyone’s hands, it would be in the clear for their use.

Both MPLS and Internet networks allow for a secure VPN network to ride on top.Secure encrypted VPN’s can easily be built on top of MPLS networks just as easily as Internet based networks and is the recommended method for all businesses to secure their traffic across any connection.(Encrypting traffic may require you to find alternative ways to apply QOS / TOS to your traffic depending on your network.)

Both MPLS and Internet networks allow for the VPN network to be fully meshed.This simply means that each location can be connected to every other location over either MPLS or Internet thus providing direct site-to-site communication and or redundancy.

Both MPLS and Internet networks can be terminated on various layer 1 mediums.MPLS is typically terminated on fractional T1 and above connections.Internet typically terminates on DSL, cable, Ethernet, wireless, fiber, T1 and above.

Internet networks allow you to have a selection of carriers per location.Internet networks are not limited to a single carrier. Instead they allow for your business to add a new location with any type of Internet connection (DSL, wireless, cable, fiber, Ethernet, T1, DS3 etc.) or carrier (Sprint, AT&T, Covad, Time Warner etc.)

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