Blog · 19 Mar 2021

The simple way to make the step change from MPLS to an internet network

How can organisations get the best internet connectivity without running separate MPLS and internet services side-by-side?

Senior Manager Managed Network Services, BT

With so many companies seeing cloud-based services like Office 365 as their next step, getting the right internet connectivity in place is high on the IT agenda.

In fact, many want to make the move as soon as possible and, for smaller branches particularly, this makes a lot of sense.

But for those with mid to large sites, or business-critical sites, it’s not such a straightforward decision. Organisations are hesitating, less willing to give up the inherent predictability and security of MPLS – yet they recognise their need for high-quality internet connectivity for SaaS and cloud-hosted applications. The result is they end up running separate MPLS and internet services, which is often an inefficient way to use total bandwidth.

The side-by-side model can be inflexible

When businesses go down the route of adding in an internet service to sit alongside their MPLS network this usually means adding extra complexity to their infrastructure, with extra ports, access circuits and routers specifically for the internet service. Plus, there’s the need to forge a new relationship with an ISP. This brings a wait for installation, uncertainty around service quality and assurance, and issues over how to secure this new entrance to the organisation.

This route also involves making some critical decisions that don’t allow for much flexibility. How much internet capacity should you buy, when you can’t order one speed and then downgrade to another later? How much traffic should you move from MPLS to internet? How much MPLS should you keep?

It’s difficult to make decisions today that will meet the unknown needs of the future, particularly as you can be financially locked into your decisions for at least 12 months. As a result, some organisations find their digital transformation plans slow down. 

Companies are looking for a better way that doesn’t involve running MPLS and internet services side-by-side. How can they get the best of both worlds?

Multi Service Access runs an internet service over MPLS

What if you could simply allocate part of your MPLS bandwidth to get high-quality business internet for no extra cost, by reusing your existing MPLS access and CPE?

We understand that you might not be ready to decommission your MPLS, but still need to add in dedicated internet access during the life of your MPLS contract. Our new Multi Service Access solution lets you try the internet for free.

It provides a dedicated, uncontended, high-performance internet service that allows bi-directional traffic and supports all the same features you would get with a separate connection.

Multi Service Access means you’re not doubling up on access circuits or routers, and your traffic takes a more direct route, which can reduce MPLS and Internet bandwidth at your datacentres – all leading to potential costs savings. Your traffic will break out to the internet more locally and in-country, so you’ll get better latency and faster response times. And you can use embedded, router-based security or a separate firewall to protect your traffic.

Multi Service Access lets you check out the impact of improved performance on your business-critical apps, while keeping the security and performance of MPLS. It’s an extremely flexible approach: you can share the bandwidth between MPLS and the internet, and you aren’t locked into MPLS technology. Multi Service Access is also an ideal stepping stone on your migration journey from MPLS to the internet, letting you go at a pace that suits your business needs.

Try out Multi Service Access

If you’d like to see how Multi Service Access could work in your organisation, we can run a pilot at one of your existing sites. You could decide to allocate your unused backup MPLS circuit to direct internet access, or you might try running MPLS and internet traffic on a primary and / or a secondary MPLS leg. It’s your choice.

You can divert some of your traffic, measure how it performs and then use it as a blueprint for rolling out Multi Service Access. You’ll be able to provide your users with better access to cloud and local internet services and test out the differences without the commitments of fixed contracts.

A lot of organisations I’m talking to are taking the opportunity to reshape their network now, ahead of a bulk return of employees to the office – an event that is becoming more of a reality as governments publish timelines for opening up after the pandemic. So, now’s the perfect time to add internet into your MPLS service.

To find out more about how we can incorporate Managed Service Access into your organisation, please get in touch with your account manager.