VPLS and MPLS: What’s the Difference?

All businesses need to send data from one place to another within their network, but few give real consideration to how this data is actually moved. In fact, for the vast majority of companies, the processes involved are never given a second thought. And this can be a costly mistake. 

The optimization of a company’s network is hugely important, because it can have such a dramatic impact on how well a company is able to serve its customers. Options such as VPLS and MPLS are integral to great optimization strategies, so if a company is to stand a chance of offering the best service it possibly can, then they really matter. 

If a network isn’t properly optimized, it can lead to a wide range of knock-on effects that will soon be visible to consumers and team members alike. These include congestion in traffic due to limits on bandwidth, and frustratingly slow loading speeds resulting from latency in the system. That’s why the processes being used by data centers are so important, and why the differences between VPLS and MPLS should really matter to growing businesses.

IT professionals will tend to opt for either MPLS, VPLS, or a combination of the two when designing a network. While these acronyms might sound remarkably similar, they’re actually quite different. Find out more about what MPLS and VPLS mean to make sure you’re using the best possible options for your company. 

What is MPLS? 

MPLS refers to multiprotocol label switching. This term describes how data is moved from one location to another, within a network. Through the use of labels, MPLS aims to improve the speed at which data is moved in a noticeable way. Let’s see how it works. 

The average network will include many data packets, which are moved around according to the information stored within tables found inside them. Routers must read through the information to discern how data should be moved, before completing the task. This happens incredibly quickly, but it’s still a task which must be fulfilled before the router can complete the process. And it’s something which can be made faster – through the introduction of multiprotocol label switching. 

Multiprotocol label switching means predetermining the path that data takes through a network, and labeling it in accordance with this. Doing so means that routers no longer need to sift through complex tables to decide on the correct route for the information, and therefore data transfer speeds can be improved by a considerable margin. This gives a real impact in terms of network efficiency, helping to optimize the network and improve its speed. 

Speed isn’t the only advantage that multiprotocol label switching provides, either. Another key benefit of MPLS is the fact that it can be used to prioritise traffic, so that essential, time-critical information is dealt with more quickly than other data. This ensures that the most important data is processed fastest, providing huge benefits in terms of overall efficiency. 

What is VPLS? 

The acronym VPLS means virtual private LAN service. It’s a type of VPN which works quite differently to MPLS. This option is Ethernet-based. It provides a way of connecting a number of different LAN sites which may be widely dispersed. When connected, these sites will appear as if they are all in the same LAN, and they will function as if they are too. 

The key benefit here lies in the way in which data packets are moved in such a network. With VPLS, data can be taken from point A to point B using internal routing processes. There’s therefore no need to rely on the company’s service provider to manage this. 

The movement of data is immediate with VPLS, and paths are simplified as data no longer needs to travel through so many connections before reaching the end point of its journey. On arrival, data can be transferred through a local network which results in a speedy, reliable service and a well optimized network. 

How Do VPLS and MPLS compare? 

While VPLS and MPLS are similar in what they do, the ways in which they work are remarkably different. It’s important to note that both options use similar ideas, yet companies do not need to choose one or the other when finalising their optimization strategies. Both VPLS and MPLS can provide unique benefits to companies, particularly if a brand is hoping to future proof its network in a way that won’t limit its growth plans. 

The key advantages of MPLS lie in its relatively simple implementation, and its capacity to maximise the performance of a network by improving speed, security and overall efficiency. However, if a company requires a greater level of control over how data travels from one point to another in its networks, then VPLS is often a better option. 

VPLS may be more difficult to implement, and incur a greater cost than MPLS, but it does provide superior security features while also minimising latency. Often, companies opt to use VPLS to enhance existing MPLS solutions, and this can mean that a company enjoys the best of both worlds. 

When weighing up the pros and cons of VPLS and MPLS, remember it’s often not an either/or question. Many networks benefit from the introduction of both solutions, so this may well be worth exploring before you make any decisions. 

VPLS and MPLS have long been used by IT professionals looking to ramp up the efficiency of their networks, minimising latency and improving speeds across the board. While both offer unique benefits to growing companies, there are a range of advantages and disadvantages to consider before making a choice between the two options. And of course, both options can be used in harmony to maximize the benefits of these two very different ways of moving data from one place to another.