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Bigleaf and MPLS

A very common question we hear from our partners and customers is whether Bigleaf’s Optimization service “works with MPLS”. The simple answer is “yes,” but the “when” and “how” components deserve some explanation.


Traditional Bigleaf Model

Under Bigleaf’s traditional model, our customer premise router connects to 2 or more Internet circuits. We encapsulate the customer’s traffic within tunnels across those Internet circuits that connect to Bigleaf’s redundant network of server clusters sitting in major Peering Centers across the country. Our router clusters then pass the customer’s traffic out to its destination (Google, VoIP Provider, etc.).


Internet over MPLS

For a customer that has previously invested in an MPLS network to connect multiple office locations, the question then becomes whether a location’s MPLS circuit can be utilized as that “2nd Internet” connection with Bigleaf’s service. And the answer is absolutely.

As an example, lets look at a common multi-site customer scenario below. Bigleaf’s service could be dropped into the 4 remote locations without a need for the customer to add a 2nd Internet feed to each site. They could simply connect their coax connection into WAN port #1 on their Bigleaf router. They would utilize WAN port #2 on the Bigleaf router to connect to their onsite MPLS router. We then ride the customer’s MPLS network back to their Corp. HQ and head out their 100 Mbps Internet connection. The end result is a Bigleaf-optimized Internet solution with real-time load-balancing between the remote site’s coax connection and the HQ’s 100 Mbps fiber connection. The customer’s MPLS network has simply become the vehicle to access a 2nd Internet feed.

A common sense next-step for this customer would be to add Bigleaf service to their HQ site as well and add a 2nd commodity Internet connection (such as DSL or Coax) to ensure they’re not vulnerable to downtime or degradation on their 100 Mbps Internet connection. Even the highest quality, tier 1 fiber connection lacks physical and carrier diversity and is vulnerable to the infamous backhoe or carrier maintenance issue.


On the LAN Side of the Equation

At the remote sites, the customer has a couple configuration options. Option #1 would be to configure their LAN routers to send Internet traffic to the Bigleaf system, and MPLS traffic straight to their MPLS router (thus bypassing Bigleaf’s system). Their Internet traffic would be optimized across both Internet feeds (the local coax connection and the HQ 100 Mbps fiber connection), and their MPLS traffic would be steered directly to their MPLS network. Option #2 would apply if the customer is looking to eventually replace their MPLS network with a VPN connectivity solution. In this case, they could set up their VPN router to send all traffic through Bigleaf’s Optimization system (and thus Bigleaf would become the transport mechanism for both the customer’s Internet traffic and VPN connectivity traffic). This is a great way to leverage an MPLS network while it’s still under contract with the carrier for a customer that wants to migrate immediately to a VPN solution.

If you have any questions or would like to talk live to learn more about how we can work together to build more robust cloud connectivity solutions, please give us a call or send us an email. We’re here to help and bring peace of mind to your IT staff!