Multi-Protocol Label Switching, also known as MPLS, is a networking system that many businesses find useful due to the way it lets you manage your data by dynamically changing the priority and route it takes through your network.
MPLS may be something you have considered or will consider, implementing in your business at some point in time. Before choosing a provider though, you need to be thinking of what it actually takes to get it implemented. The installation process can end up becoming a massive, expensive pain if you don’t pick the right provider, so it’s crucial to make the right choice.
There are countless things to think about and research when you’re choosing a provider, and we can’t go over all of them now. To help you get started though, here is a look at a few of the most important things you need to do in order to choose the best MPLS provider for your business.
Strive to Keep your Relationship Positive
Since MPLS providers are always looking for new companies to work with, establishing a basic working relationship tends to be fairly easy. Don’t just settle for a surface-level relationship though – there are some questions that you need to ask to ensure you understand them, and they understand you, on a deeper level. This is all in an effort to build a relationship that does well both ways.
- Ask how exactly they’ll install MPLS on your network – it’s one of the tasks they’ll be doing first after all. It can be useful to find out how they implement sites, remove sites, and how they are working on sites right this moment.
- Try to find out whether they work with any third-party companies. They may work with third-party contractors or suppliers – and just because they are trusted by the provider, that doesn’t mean you’ll find them up to scratch for what your own business is looking for.
- Make sure your MPLS provider’s manager has the qualifications you would want them to have, as well as the right amount of knowledge and experience. If someone is going to be making the calls about the installation process, you want to know they’ll be making the right ones.
- Quiz them on their relationships with their previous customers – this can be a great way to find out what to expect if you go with them. What you want to be looking for is evidence of how they’ve successfully supported other businesses – this could take the form of a case study in which they show off their skills and expertise, for example.
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Let past customers inform your decision
Let’s expand on that last point a little. If you really want to find out what a company is like to work with, consider getting in contact with people they have worked within the past. This can help you figure out whether your provider really has the skills they are claiming to possess.
You could even ask a provider outright to give you the contact details you need, as if they’ve received good reviews, they’ll likely want you to hear them. Don’t necessarily expect a detailed conversation – any kind of positive (or negative) comments are useful.
One thing to consider if you do end up getting into contact with past customers is the reason why they mention particular things. After all, there are numerous reasons an experience might not be ideal, many of which are perfectly reasonable.
However, don’t ignore a pattern of bad behaviors if one starts to emerge – chances are if you’re being consistently warned about how bad a provider is at communicating, it’s not just the customer having a bad day!
Consider your timeframe
The world of networking is constantly evolving, meaning to stay on top, as a business, you need to move fast. Failing to do so can result in our tech becoming out of date faster than you can afford to upgrade. Of course, you also have to consider that the act of upgrading the technology of your network can also take time.
Every provider is different when it comes to the speed they work at. Some will be able to get you set up within a couple of weeks, and some will take months – and that’s not even taking into account the potential for there to be delayed.
Timing issues such as delays can be difficult to predict and avoid, especially when you have a limited pool of providers to choose from. However, there are things providers can do to help reduce timing-based stress.
One example is that while the network is being worked on, they may be able to implement a temporary 4G WAN network for you to work with, so you don’t fall behind in the time it takes for MPLS to get set up.
Whether or not you can afford to wait for upgrades to be finished will be different depending on your particular business, but if you have concerns, a temporary fix may be just what you need, as long as your provider can let you switch from temporary to regular with relative ease.
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Get the most out of your network
Making sure that all the software and hardware necessary to set up MPLS is in place can be fairly straightforward for providers – it’s the act of tailoring all the different components to precisely fit your business’ needs that takes time. Being able to get the simple stuff set up is par for the course, but not every provider will be prepared to create a system perfectly suited to your unique business.
You’re on to a winner when you can find a provider who shows an active interest in your business and can show that they understand how your network is used by those who use it. Ensuring your end-users receive the experience they expect is vital, and can only be done with a provider who knows how to make your infrastructure fulfill its true potential!