While both MPLS and Point to Point leased lines are popular choices in establishing enterprise-wide networks, each comes with its own merits and limitations. This article will discuss both in detail and also highlight the difference between MPLS and point to point internet connectivity so you can choose the one best suited for your specific requirements.

What is a Point to Point Network?

A Point to Point or P2P provides a path from one fixed point to another. It is a closed network data transport service that does not traverse the public Internet and is inherently secure with no data encryption needed. Point to Point networks are also known as a Point to Point Link, Private Line, Leased Line, or Data Line.

How does a Point to Point connection work?

The key characteristic of point to point network is that the entire bandwidth of the link is dedicatedly used for transmitting between the two points. These connections are available in a range of bandwidth speeds, including T1, Ethernet, and DS3.

Typically, the endpoint communication takes place via phone lines and modems. At the endpoints, PPP or point-to-point protocol software is deployed on a router for a physical network. This PPP configuration can also be employed for establishing an internal network that can cover a larger geographical area.

What are Point to Point connections used for?

Point to Point links are used by businesses to provide reliable and secure data services for applications, including credit card processing, file sharing, data backup, point to point VOIP, and video conferencing. A point to point network can also be configured to carry voice, video, Internet, and data services together. Internet service providers use point to point networks for offering dial-up access to their clients as the IP packets are not transmitted over a modem line without any data link protocols.

What are the benefits of Point to Point Networks?

Point to point leased line connectivity is a legacy concept, and newer networking technologies are currently trending in the market. However, PPP topology offers certain specific advantages and users continue to deploy it. Some benefits include:

Reliability

Reliability

Point to point networks are certainly more reliable, especially in comparison to DSL broadband. It offers businesses connectivity to the Internet that is consistent at all times. This dedicated leased line is not interrupted by connections from any other individuals or businesses. You will not suffer any drops in your internet connections since the leased line is exclusive to that specific point and is designed to deliver assured performance.

Support

A point to point leased line plan comes with a predefined SLA (service level agreement). This outlines how network issues will be attended to and resolved depending on their criticality. This provides immediate problem resolutions in case of issues.

Speed

Dedicated leased lines offering point to point connectivity also offer faster download and upload speeds in comparison to broadband connections. This is highly relevant for businesses that are uploading large quantities of data to the cloud on a daily basis, constantly streaming data online, or using VoIP telephony.

Security

Leased lines provide dedicated internet access as they are exclusive to only 2 locations or points that they are connecting. A dedicated lease line is more secure as it avoids public networks. The security risks can be easily reduced by setting appropriate router and firewall settings.

What are the limitations of Point to Point Networks?

High cost

Dedicated leased lines are more expensive in comparison to MPLS or even ADSL connections. The cost can increase further if you opt for add ons like more bandwidth, a higher connection speed, voice capability, etc.

Difficult to scale

Adding branches requires new point to point networks to be set up between the branch and main office. Different geographical areas have different providers and rates. For instance, a service provider may offer cheaper options for servicing a location in an urban area in comparison to a remote or rural area. Scaling beyond a point can become very challenging.

Difficult to manage multiple vendors

Difficult to manage multiple vendors

Different contracts, agreements, and quality issues make it hard to centrally manage the network cohesively. Maintenance costs increase as dedicated staff are required for day-to-day network management.

What is MPLS?

MPLS or Multiprotocol Label Switching network is one of the most popular WAN (Wide Area Network) connectivity options. It is data forwarding technology that increases the speed and controls the flow of network traffic. The public Internet functions by forwarding data packets from one router to the next until the packets reach their destination. MPLS, on the other hand, sends packets along predetermined network paths. Ideally, the result is that routers spend less time deciding where to forward each packet, and packets take the same path every time.

How does MPLS work?

Data packets in this network setup are directed across the network based on their assigned labels. These labels define the packets’ predetermined path. This gives the IT team a higher control over the network, ensuring that traffic flows are uninterrupted. While the network control and management remain with the service provider, the users can define the QoS (quality of service) characteristics.

What is MPLS used for?

MPLS can be used when speed and reliability are highly important. Applications that require near-immediate data delivery are known as real-time applications. Voice calls and video calls are two common examples of real-time applications.

What are the benefits of MPLS?

Reliability

Automated label switching makes MPLS  extremely reliable. Users can define which traffic is critical and takes precedence over the rest in case the primary link is down. Therefore, the packets are automatically switched depending on the labels that are pre-assigned to them.

Improve User Experience

By prioritizing time-sensitive traffic such as VoIP, MPLS offers multiple Classes of Service, enabling you to apply separate settings to different types of traffic.

Improved uptime

Improved uptime

MPLS is capable of providing excellent uptime in spite of the lower cost of service. This is further assured in the form of SLAs or service level agreements that are entered into by the service provider and the customer.

Hide Network Complexity

An MPLS connection between two sites can be configured to act like a long ethernet cable, with the hops involved hidden from view. This is sometimes known as VPLS (Virtual Private LAN Service).

What are the limitations of MPLS?

Cost

MPLS is more expensive, and network performance comes at a high setup and ongoing cost.

Long setup time

Setting up complicated dedicated paths across one or more large networks takes time. LSPs have to be manually configured by the MPLS vendor or by the organization using MPLS.

Lack of encryption:

MPLS is not encrypted, and encryptions have to be set up separately.

Cloud challenges

Organizations that rely on cloud services may not be able to set up direct network connections to their cloud servers, as they do not have access to the specific servers where their data and applications live.

MPLS Vs. Point to Point – What is the difference?

While both technologies are designed to deliver WAN connectivity, there is a core difference between MPLS and point to point networks. A comparison summary is given below:

  • MPLS provides a logical separation of network traffic. P2P networks only offer physical traffic separation.
  • MPLS requires higher-skilled resources for setting up the network. Lesser skilled resources can easily set up and manage point to point links.
  • MPLS model works in a ‘hub and spoke’ setup where remote sites must go through the hub site to connect to other remote sites. But point to point network allows any spoke to connect to the other directly.
  • MPLS allows traffic engineering —configuration of network traffic path. This is not possible in point to point connectivity.

MPLS Vs. Point to Point – What is the difference

On the applicability front, MPLS is typically recommended for large enterprises with multiple offices requiring a private and secure network. Point to point networks, on the other hand, are most suitable for business operations that require guaranteed bandwidth availability and regularly transfer large amounts of data between sites.

Is there a better option?

Both MPLS and P2P networks are not designed for modern networking requirements. SD-WAN or Software-Defined WAN is the latest technology innovation that can help overcome the limitations of both these options. SD-WAN can be overlaid on either of the two networks.

Ultimately, the right connectivity type is based on your business requirements. There are many vendors and options available, and your enterprise network can be customized to suit your needs. CarrierBid Telecom consulting can bring the best solution to your organization without adding to your cost. Contact us for a free consultation today!

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