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Back to the Future with Regional Network Strategies

Before the days of the any-to-any network connectivity that MPLS services provide, large global networks were based on point-to-point technologies such as private lines, frame relay or ATM and were typically very regionalized with multiple network tiers. Sites in a particular country may have been connected to an in-country hub, which would in turn connect over a regional network to a regional hub, which in turn connected to the company’s global backbone.

Such networks would typically use multiple carriers, in particular leveraging carriers that were strong in particular regions. However, the networks could be difficult to manage and gave rise to performance bottlenecks, hence the rise of MPLS, which was largely driven on the back of the benefits (both cost and performance) of any-to-any connectivity rather than the ability to use multiple classes of service.

In the early days of MPLS, many customers were uncomfortable integrating multiple MPLS networks, which led to a trend of companies consolidating much of their global data network with a single MPLS provider (which was usually either AT&T, BT, Orange Business Services, or Verizon) and the demise of regional networking strategies. But now that MPLS is so well understood, such concerns have fallen away and we are seeing a rise in the use of multiple providers for a customer’s global network and a trend away from global to regional network strategies.


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