For around 95% of startups, an
internet connection is a non-negotiable when it comes to performing your
If an internet connection is so important, why do so many startups try to make do with one that offers a less-than-perfect way of connecting their IT network to the wider world? In reality, it’s because very few of us are IT experts – so in many cases, we make do with what we’re offered by our ISP.
The truth is, this doesn’t have to
be the route you go down – so if your IT network or daily applications could do
with a boost, there’s a tech solution that’ll increase your speed, reliability
and efficiency – and, as a knock-on effect, boost your company’s productivity
What’s the answer?
Increasingly, startups are finding a high-quality supplier and implementing an MPLS solution as part of their network to boost IT speed. An MPLS system is network data management tool that optimises how your applications and devices communicate with one another. The result? Well, your network becomes a well organised series of connections – rather than a disorganised highway that’s got a mish-mash of data sent by applications that are each holding one-another up.
What does MPLS do?
To understand MPLS fully, it’s
useful to consider what it stands for; Multi-Protocol Label Switching – and it
can be explained fairly simply.
The ‘Multi-Protocol’ part of the
name just means that an MPLS system can integrate with a huge host of different
communication methods used by devices and applications on your network. When
data is sent between applications or devices, it’s broken down into data
packets. A protocol dictates how the information
is broken down – and, at the receiving end, it therefore also dictates how the
data is pieced back together. Since MPLS handles your data in transit, it has
to understand a vast range of protocols.
The ‘Label Switching’ part of the
MPLS acronym is where things get really interesting and useful. Different
applications and devices are assigned labels by the system. When data is
transferred, it has the corresponding label(s) attached, so, instead of simply
bundling all data together, a ‘Label Switch Router’ is used to make sure
individual labels can be identified as being priority, allowing your most
important applications, users or devices to have priority over less important
With MPLS in place, there’s no
disorganised rush of data being transmitted through your network, instead, the router
considers the importance of the information, before deciding, dynamically,
exactly how the data should be handled – and the route it should take to ensure
it gets to its location as it should.
What are some of the
What does all this organisation of
traffic actually mean for your business though? Well, if your IT network is
central to what you do – it can actually mean a great deal. Let’s look at some
of the key benefits of an MPLS system in a startup’s computer infrastructure…
1- An easily maintained network
A network that has clearly defined
routes for all the traffic it handles is infinitely easier to work on than one
that simply throws all the data into one super-highway and hopes for the best.
With clearly defined routes, you can fault-find quickly, making sure engineer
time on your site is kept to an absolute minimum.
2- Better uptime
Making sure your network is easily
maintained also has the huge benefit of ensuring the applications you need to
run your business are ‘up’ are as long as possible. It’s estimated that
downtime can cost even a small business thousands on a daily basis – so even a
day without systems could be enough to permanently derail a fledgling company.
3- Increased application speed
Of course, application speed is absolutely
paramount if you want to deliver the best possible service – either internally
or to your customers. When you make sure mission-critical applications can be
accessed quickly and reliably, you remove from the equation any chance that
you’re going to have to tell customers your ‘system is down’ – leaving them
seeking your product or service from another supplier.
4- The ability to run real-time applications
Do you run real-time applications? If so, you’ll know how important it is that data is fed to and from them reliably – as, quite frankly, they’re only as good as the latest data they’re taking onboard. If you don’t run real-time applications – it’s worth asking yourself why not. For many companies, not being able to ensure a good connection is the reason they opt to avoid things like video-calling, remote working and so forth. If this could open doors for you – a MPLS system might pay for itself many times over with growth opportunities.
5- Increased productivity
If a team of 10 end-users each lose 10 minutes per day due to poor network performance, that adds up to over 400 lost hours of productivity over a working year. When you have competitors snapping at your heels, making the most of every minute in the day is absolutely vital to success. An MPLS system won’t work miracles by itself – but it’ll mean that you’re able to keep your team on-task as much as is physically possible.
6- Is MPLS right for you?
There’s no certain way of saying
whether an MPLS system is right for you – after all, it’s going to come at a
price – and, depending on where your company is at the moment, only you can say
whether that price represents good value.
It’s worth asking yourself a few questions:
Do we handle a range of data from different applications across our network?
Would downtime cost the business dearly?
Do we have applications that absolutely must run so we can perform our core business functions?
Do engineers on-site cause disruption that we’d prefer to avoid?
If the answer to any of these is
yes, it’s likely that MPLS would be a worthy additional to your IT
infrastructure. In a world where everyone’s working hard – it can really payoff
to be the company that’s working hard and smart.
About Author: Chris Fraser
Chris has served as a business advisor to a big list of small and micro businesses; localized businesses and social enterprise in particular. Chris is also an avid reader and loves to stay updated about latest tech and innovation.