MPLS networking technology makes move on frame relay

Frame relay is one of the most widely accepted ways of linking corporate sites. But the time may now be ripe for MultiProtocol...

Frame relay is one of the most widely accepted ways of linking corporate sites. But the time may now be ripe for MultiProtocol Label Switching (MPLS), a no-nonsense high-speed routing protocol promising better quality of service and lower implementation costs.

MPLS is an Internet Engineering Task Force specification enabling routers at the edge of networks to read special tags on Internet protocol packets. That bypasses destination lookup in routers at the core of the network, which, according to industry officials, helps speed routing and affords quality of service at levels that can support a wide variety of network traffic, including video.

A major proponent of MPLS for worldwide wide-area network connections is Global One. At this week's Networld+Interop conference, the telecommunications services provider announced it had just flipped the switch on a new data centre in Virginia, and said it would aggressively market its virtual private network (VPN) over an MPLS service to corporate customers throughout North America.

Andi Wethli, CIO at Switzerland-based abrasives manufacturer Sia Abrasives Holding AG, said his company had chosen Global One's MPLS VPN service to connect company sites in ten countries.

Wethli hired a consulting firm to recommend a list of service providers and then selected the Global One system after "getting more of the details face-to-face".

His selection criteria included global access to the carrier's network, VPN services and a single network that could handle voice and data. Wethli's company runs enterprise resource planning applications, some legacy production systems, company e-mail and voice telephone traffic over the network.

Jim Slaby, an analyst at Giga, said he expects to see a "wave of deployment" for MPLS-based networks during the next two to three years, because it is cheaper to set up, manage and maintain and can cost companies 10% less to install and run than frame services, he said. WorldCom is also going in that direction, Slaby added.

Global One's main service offering is still frame relay, noted Executive Vice President Detlef Spang. Still, he expects more of his company's existing corporate customers to migrate to MPLS VPNs.

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