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How do you benefit from MPLS provider comparison?

An expert explains the process of choosing an MPLS provider.

What should you consider for an MPLS provider comparison?

All too often, selecting a multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) provider becomes a commodity-based procurement decision. IT managers are constantly challenged when moving through their MPLS provider comparison projects. Perhaps the main reason why procurement projects fail is due to indecision. Organizations are suffering. Major issues can negatively impact user productivity. Even less severe problems are extremely frustrating.

The reason why IT managers find it difficult to select an MPLS provider is partly due to the challenges associated with extracting tangible information from the service provider marketplace. When faced with huge quantities of features and benefits that all sound similar, IT is unable to quantify the real value behind the marketing. The inevitable result is either a no-go decision, or the business is awarded to the provider with the lowest pricing.

To compare each provider requires a process that takes two things into consideration: specific requirements and service provider capability. The methodology used involves looking inwardly at your existing network by understanding some of the key strengths and weaknesses throughout the contract term. When you couple this kind of analysis with an innate understanding of your business strategy, a statement of requirements begins to form. It is critical to look at where your business is going in terms of growth since acquisition projects would create a major impact to the design. The growth of a business is also applicable to users and future applications.

In today's enterprise organization, managers are faced with a host of access challenges, fueled by the growth and sophistication of mobile devices. As a result, the network has become more distributed than ever, with users working remotely and applications hosted off-site within multiple locations. The cloud promises much in terms of ease of use. But the reality remains that the underlying connectivity is very much the key to performance.

On the technical side, MPLS provider comparison requirements also require technical analysis. We recommend considering trends, in the process examining previous application performance and growth to forecast how traffic is growing. Applications clearly need uptime. When considering trends, look at outages and the causes of the issue to understand where improvements might be made. How the existing provider fixed your problem and the time taken will help to understand the support processes in place and where improvements might be made.

Areas to study include application type and performance; adds, moves and changes; documentation; support, both pre-sales and post-sales; topology and pricing; reach; service-level agreement performance; and account management.

Next Steps

Request the TechTarget version of Robert Sturt's step-by-step guide about MPLS procurement.

This was last published in October 2014

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