For around 95% of startups, an internet connection is a non-negotiable when it comes to performing your everyday tasks.
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 too…
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 tasks.
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 benefits?
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…
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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.