Is It Time to Move Away From Your Internet VPN?

For businesses with multiple locations, the swift and secure transfer of information between locations is of utmost importance. To that end, many businesses utilize the Internet along with a network-to-network Virtual Private Network (VPN). It’s relatively inexpensive, simplifies site-to-site access, and does provide some level of security. But while a site-to-site VPN does provide a degree of security to all users on the network, there are other aspects of a VPN that are less than desirable. vpn internet speed limitThe speed between connected points can get bogged down by issues such as network congestion and packet corruption, and voice and video can fall victim to latency and jitter. This is particularly troublesome if your business relies on VoIP. Why is this true? Very simply, all traffic is treated equally across the Internet. No mechanism exists to ask for priority treatment of information being sent across the Internet. VoIP traffic, which needs to arrive within a few hundred milliseconds, has no more priority than data that isn’t time sensitive. And if too much traffic gets sent, all traffic suffers the same fate.

An additional challenge with an Internet-based VPN solution is that every site is connected directly to the Internet. Each location must be carefully protected with a security appliance or firewall. Again, to put it simply, there are lots of doors to alarm and guard.

Because there are so many non-controllable issues inherent with a VPN, many businesses may be better served by switching to MPLS. MPLS stands for Multiprotocol Label Switching, and is an improved form of VPN. Instead of operating as a secure tunnel within the public access of the Internet, MPLS operates in a carrier-provided private network.

The advantages of MPLS over Internet VPN are straightforward and aim directly toward the bottom line. By eliminating the potential bog-down of network congestion, MPLS provides greater speed and performance in the delivery of information. Security is better managed because company data never hits the public Internet.

Another advantage to MPLS is that businesses are able to control the Quality of Service (QoS) by prioritizing the types of traffic that travel over the network, giving greater priority to voice and video over email and eliminating latency and jitter. While all of these advantages increase the price tag over the cost of traditional Internet VPN, many companies are finding that the additional cost is more than worth it for improved service and very often the service is backed by a Service Level Guaranty.

Maybe up until this point you haven’t given a lot of thought to the way your company information travels on the Internet, and you assume that everything is speedy and secure, as it should be. But if your business relies upon voice and video and you’ve noticed some stuttering in these areas, or if you’d like to beef up your data security, it may be time to look into MPLS.

{photo used under Creative Commons from bredgur – flickr}