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White Paper: Analyzing MPLS from an ROI Perspective


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This white paper discusses the most common VPN technologies and highlights hidden costs, which should
be considered when deploying a VPN. Network meshing and the addition of subsequent nodes are automatic functions of “connection-less” technology, including MPLS and IPSec. However, Frame Relay, a “connection oriented” technology, requires separate “permanent” virtual circuits to be
manually programmed, in order for each node to be meshed.

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White Paper: Analyzing MPLS from an ROI Perspective

  1. 1. WHITE PAPER Analyzing MPLS from an ROI Perspective Site Interconnection In most cases, a Virtual Private functions of “connection-less” Network (VPN) is considered a means technology, including MPLS and IPSec. of connecting various locations using However, Frame Relay, a “connection- a public or private IP network. oriented” technology, requires separate Increasingly, businesses require a fully “permanent” virtual circuits to be meshed network permitting “any to any” manually programmed, in order for connectivity. It is important to determine each node to be meshed. Network the need for a meshed network, as the expansions are time consuming and resources and costs associated with necessitate the need for accurate record creating and maintaining a meshed keeping and skilled IT resources. network are directly impacted by the The amount of resources required specific VPN technology deployed. increases exponentially as the number This white paper discusses the most of sites in the network increase. common VPN technologies and highlights hidden costs, which should be considered when deploying a VPN. Network meshing and the addition of subsequent nodes are automatic Throughput Speed Throughput speed results from with 768K of bandwidth, but a CIR a combination of the connecting with 128K of bandwidth. (CIR must network circuits’ bandwidth and the always be equal to or less than the port effects of any congestion that may bandwidth.) It is the CIR rate that will exist within the network. It is therefore fundamentally affect the price being important to understand the manner charged for the Frame Relay circuit. in which bandwidth is managed within different network types. Under normal circumstances, the full 768K of bandwidth may be available In regards to Frame Relay, Permanent for use. However, when congestion Virtual Circuits (PVCs) are established occurs within the carrier’s network, and maintained between sites. data that exceeds the CIR would be End-users subscribe to a minimum deemed ‘discard eligible,’ because bandwidth, Committed Information the throughput of VPN circuits Rates (CIRs), which is contained within under congestion is limited to the the PVC. For example, over a Frame CIR bandwidth. Relay network, you could have a PVC © Windstream 2012 DATE: 3.15.12 | REVISION: 6 | 009573_Analyzing_MPLS_ROI_Perspective | CREATIVE: MF | JOB#: 9573 - Analyzing MPLS from a ROI Perspective | COLOR: GS | TRIM: 8.5” x 11”
  2. 2. WHITE PAPER Throughput Speed Under these conditions, data marked as discard eligible would need to be (Cont.) retransmitted, which is unacceptable for time sensitive or real-time applications. Applications such as VoIP, which are latency sensitive, will experience static, crackling, or will drop altogether. Since MPLS does not require PVCs with CIR, congestion is handled more efficiently. The following diagram demonstrates how full port speed would be available to overcome the congested conditions under MPLS or IPSec. With Frame Relay, only the bandwidth of the associated CIR would be available; therefore, congestion recovery would typically occur faster in a MPLS or IPSec VPN. It is important to consider how end-user business could be affected by congestion. Customers should select the type of While an equivalent Frame Relay VPN that best matches the applications PVC may cost less than or equal to being deployed. For example, if real-time that of MPLS, an equivalent CIR will transactions are being processed (i.e. generally result in increased Frame point of sale transactions), congestion Relay circuit costs. between nodes may be deemed unacceptable. Any costs associated with provisioning a higher capacity network may be offset by the additional business gained as a result. © Windstream 2012
  3. 3. WHITE PAPER Data Prioritization The type of network being adopted Although Frame Relay allows for data needs to match the application being prioritization, ‘Priority PVCs,’ which are deployed. While Voice over IP available from some vendors, add exemplifies the classic need for real- substantial IT resources and associated time data prioritization, to avoid dropped costs. Implementing ‘Priority PVCs’ calls and transmission distortion, there is not automatic; manual intervention are many scenarios in which data needs is required in many cases at both the to be prioritized in order for businesses customer level and at the carrier level. In to function efficiently. Internet surfing an MPLS environment, data prioritization or e-mail should take lower priority in is fundamental. Quality of Service (QoS) comparison to point of sale transactions, facilitates packet prioritization, and with to ensure that a business is capable of its relatively simple implementation, is generating maximum revenues. invariably a cheaper solution. Security MPLS and Frame Relay are equally premium over MPLS and requires secure. Frame Relay utilizes Data Link specific hardware configurations. After Circuit Identifiers (DLCIs) to address studying various MPLS white papers traversing data packets, whereas written by technology manufacturers MPLS uses tags or labels. IPSec is and IT managers, many healthcare often adopted by organizations that are organizations are becoming comfortable required to comply with HIPAA, since claiming HIPPA compliance when IPSec relies on encrypted data transfers. utilizing MPLS VPNs. However, IPSec tends to carry a price Remote Access IPSec allows access to the customer’s However, IPSec does not provide corporate VPN from remote locations. data prioritization, because traversing This encryption method is seen within packets are encrypted, and as such, the industry as the preferred method is not generally suitable for real time of connection, ensuring data is not applications. compromised prior to entering the VPN. © Windstream 2012
  4. 4. WHITE PAPER Disaster Recovery MPLS resides on an IP over SONET fails, the customer is faced with the & Reassignment network and can automatically route following question: should he invoke around points of failure to a disaster circuit reassignment and incur the cost recovery location within the meshed associated with it, or should he wait to network. However, with a Frame Relay see if the failure could be quickly network, connection paths are pre- rectified? Acting too soon could incur determined; PVCs need to be manually unnecessary costs, but acting too late reassigned to the recovery site by the could negatively affect business. In network provider and IT resources at addition, once the problem is resolved, the end-user level. While providers may it is likely that the network would have offer a ‘PVC Redirection Service,’ it is to be reassigned back to its original essentially a manual reassignment. The configuration, incurring additional costs. time to complete reassignment increases Under an MPLS configuration, the exponentially as the number of nodes situation would have been automatically in the network increases or the need to resolved, since PVCs do not exist. mesh nodes increases. Network resilience is therefore greater with MPLS than Frame Relay. An intermittent failure within a Frame Relay network can leave a business in an undesirable predicament. If a circuit Strategic Planning All market reports show that Frame applications, such as point of sale Relay is an aging and declining transactions, reservations, etc, take technology, unable to match the rich priority over such items as Internet feature set that MPLS offers. MPLS is browsing. the de-facto standard for future services and for applications requiring packet MPLS also permits consolidation of prioritization. Packet prioritization is Voice and Data services, thereby essential in the Voice over Internet reducing communications overhead. Protocol domain, preventing clipping Frame Relay is purely a data network, and distortion and ensuring prioritization which was not designed for convergence. of data transfers. Regardless of VoIP’s presence, good business practice dictates that priority business © Windstream 2012
  5. 5. WHITE PAPER Conclusion There are hard and soft costs associated the highest level of efficiency and with a VPN deployment. While hard business continuity with minimal human costs, such as circuits and CPE, are intervention become an increasingly easy to measure, soft costs, such as desirable proposition. While other forms IT resources and throughput, are of VPN have desirable characteristics, equally important. only MPLS provides the network intelligence businesses demand with As technology progresses and the reassurance of future capabilities. businesses look towards technology With its ability to reduce in-house IT to keep them at the leading edge of resources, coupled with its inherent their field, the deployment of networks resilience, MPLS provides the most cost with embedded intelligence to enable effective and beneficial VPN solution.009356 | 3/12 © Windstream 2012