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VPLS versus MPLS


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Managed MPLS vs "wires only" VPLS. As technologies both VPLS and MPLS offer a
number of business benefits. However, there
are key operational differences between the
two, and the old adage stands – ‘do you really
know what you are buying’?

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VPLS versus MPLS

  3. 3. dO YOU REALLY KNOW WHAT YOU ARE BUYING / As technologies both VPLS and MPLS offer a AFFORDABILITY number of business benefits. However, there VPLS tends to be marketed at an attention Overheads, for example, will have to include are key operational differences between the grabbing, affordable price. But so are the expensive in-house Cisco CCIE accredited two, and the old adage stands – ‘do you really low-cost airlines. How quickly does that £19 network engineers and monitoring know what you are buying’? weekend escape to Barcelona escalate? software to manage what at the end of the day may be a complex solution. The two technologies are marketed in different Add airport tax, add a charge for your luggage, Failing that, the expertise can be outsourced guises which makes like-for-like comparison add your in-flight meal, add your seat reservation at a frightening hourly rate. These hidden difficult and sometimes confusing. However, it fee. It goes on. We press submit, the cogs turn, costs increase the risk of budget variance and can be made simple. Put the technology and and the cost rather sneakily rises tenfold. in an already uncertain economic climate this is the acronyms to one side for a moment, close It’s not a great experience. So now let’s think a risk too far for many businesses. your mind to marketing spin and think in terms about this in the context of managed Service of business benefits and total cost of ownership. versus wires only vPLS. By comparison, the Managed Service Model Then question one fundamental point - will of the UK’s leading providers is fundamentally your business gain most from a fully managed The vPLS model promoted by some technology different. It delivers budget predictability, IT and Comms delivery model (based on mPLS consultants and system integrators can have complete transparency and a full support wrap. architecture) or a ‘wires only’ dIY service based a nasty catch - spiralling price. The seemingly No nasty surprises. No unexpected spend. on vPLS? innocuous menu of pay-as-you-go extras including design, delivery and ongoing support It’s true that in our simplified take on things can transform ‘cheap to costly’ in double ‘managed vs dIY’ is one comparison of the quick time. deployment options of both technologies. But it’s one of the most topical and one of the most important. A wires only service is precisely that but many So with VPLS marketed as the next big thing we businesses fail to plan for the hidden costs ask ‘is it?’ And ‘is it right for you?’ that will inevitably follow further downstream. In some respects it’s a case of ‘read the small print.’ vPLS is in fact Layer 2 technology and has been available in various iterations for many years. It runs over mPLS which is Layer 3 and altogether more flexible. So which is the newest and which is best? Well, let’s again put the acronyms to one side and focus on some straightforward business considerations to assist decision making.
  4. 4. RELIABILITY BEYOND THE WAN In a climate where business continuity and In an age of austerity it is sometimes too easy So is there a solution in vPLS? Yes. But drill system resilience is all important, consider too to ‘knee-jerk’ to the marketing message of into the detail and really understand how the fact that vPLS relies on static routing. The low cost. But buyer beware. Not only should challenging that could be with the meshed, managed mPLS architecture of leading you fully consider hidden charges and total cost of complexities of N-1 considerations (everything service providers is dynamic, self-healing and ownership issues, but more importantly, technology connected to everything else). Then consider automatically re-routes in the event of fibre advisors should also look beyond the WAN. the alternative solution offered by the mPLS break. Consider therefore the time to fix vPLS based managed Service Provider: a solution and the hidden costs of potential downtime Pause before you commit your board and your that cleverly uses the WAN (the cloud) as and engineering costs. business to a path which you may live to regret. a seamless upgrade path to hosted Fully consider where you will be, or want to be services - voice services, data services, Unified SCALABILITY in 18 months’ time. Comms and more. All underpinned by a As a Layer 3 technology, mPLS will scale more support infrastructure whose very easily than the capped Layer 2 attributes of Ask your Support Partner some basic questions. reason for existence is to unburden vPLS. An important consideration for growth In 18 months when your telephone system you of technology heartache. Easy to hungry business. While it’s true to say that (PBX) is life expired or needs a software access, immediately available and vPLS can be developed to Layer 3, it involves upgrade, what are your options? In 18 months monitored 24 hours a day, every day. additional cost which largely mitigates the when your server room infrastructure needs Simplicity in a complex world. original price differential between the two overhauling how much is it going to hurt? In technologies. 18 months when your travel and subsistence budget is under extreme pressure and the There is one other fundamental consideration. business suddenly appreciates the huge cost While the current economic climate signals saving benefits of Unified Comms (video calling, pain for many it also provides strong growth desktop sharing and more) as a cost effective opportunity for acquisition driven businesses. mechanism for avoiding trains, planes, This is where the flexibility and ease of automobiles and hotels, will it be too late? scalability of the mPLS based managed Service The list goes on. model scores particularly well. Pause before you commit your board and your business to a path which you may live to regret. Fully consider where you will be, or want to be in 18 months’ time.
  5. 5. SUMMARY So do the benefits of vPLS add up? For some In balanced debate the majority of mid-tier Finally, as you plan your way forward, businesses with big IT departments and businesses will continue to score managed consider that not all managed Service expensive network experts it may be mPLS ahead of wires only vPLS. The tick box Providers are equal. Seek out those with their possible to argue the case. But for the bulk of of benefits and the simple logic of the pay- own end-to-end next generation network; forward looking mid-tier, multi-site businesses as-you-grow licence model of the managed identify those who can seamlessly layer who are looking to run lean and efficient IT mPLS service is difficult to dismiss. But more hosted services (voice services, data services, operations it makes complete sense to opt than that it’s an acceptance by many that the Unified Communications and more); short for the managed Service model and the short term saving headlined by wires only list those with secure funding, proven track flexibility of mPLS architecture. vPLS is heavily outweighed by the long term records and ask to visit their operation and future proofing and business agility provided by view their infrastructure first hand. You may In life there is often resistance to change. And managed mPLS service delivery models. find that some managed Service Providers are it’s fair to say there is ebbing resistance to the more equal than others. managed Service model too. That resistance The banner message ‘Focus on the core sales however has little to do with the technology. operation and let technology experts focus on It works and works well. The unspoken brutal your IT and Comms delivery infrastructure’ truth of the matter centres on self preservation resonates in a tough trading climate. It never – ‘how will this affect my job’. made more sense. However, as King Canute himself discovered you cannot hold back the tide. In this case Will ‘managed’ triumph over ‘unmanaged’? the tide is being driven by visionary IT heads that do not see the outsourcing of IT and Will managed mPLS continue to dominate the Communications as a threat, but more as a network landscape over wires only vPLS. We career and business development opportunity: the potential to add real business benefit and think so. do not be deceived by the headline evolve, perhaps, from IT director to CIO. It is a cheap price, expose the hidden support costs mature mindset that sees Blogs & Co as the insurance sales company, not Blogs & Co as and understand the challenges with scalability, the IT department. flexibility and reliability. And, above all, think beyond the WAN.
  6. 6. InTechnology HQ Central House Beckwith Knowle Harrogate HG3 1UG Tel: +44 (0)1423 850 000 Fax: +44 (0)1423 850 001 Network Data Data Unified Calls IP Telephony Management Centres Comms & Lines