Over the past 20 years, the business landscape has become wholly mobile and distributed. Today’s computer networks are stretched to keep up with this mobilization. Regardless of the size of the organization, business users need access to their networks from anywhere, at any time.
Coupled with this mobilization, demand for bandwidth is growing at an exponential rate. Businesses of every size need to expand their bandwidth affordably without being limited in their choice of network provider.
To satisfy the growing bandwidth demands, businesses are faced with several challenges. Do they need to completely rebuild their network? Should they pay for expensive upgrades? What is the most cost-effective alternative?
ML-IP effectively multiplies the speed at which any organization can access branch offices and other remote sites, whether through point-to-point connections, an Internet-based VPN, or a carrier-provided IP Managed Private Network (MPN).
ePipe is the leader in Multilink IP (ML-IP) access appliances, providing the most cost effective broadband connectivity to businesses anywhere. ML-IP is a third generation multilink technology that provides dynamically scalable bandwidth from dial through to beyond T1, regardless of the connection type (dial, cable, xDSL, Frame Relay, T1, or a mix of these) or the intervening network (Internet, Frame, ATM, private line, wireless). This bandwidth aggregation is 100% compatible with every network provider, today. Furthermore, it offers new levels of fallback and fail-over reliability.
ML-IP is a new third generation solution to the challenges facing businesses today. It enables organizations to boost bandwidth and deploy networks anywhere.
Multilink is not a new networking concept. The first generation solution, known as inverse multiplexing, converts a physical circuit into multiple circuits that transfer data simultaneously.
The next generation includes IMA (Inverse Multiplexing over ATM), ML-PPP (Multilink Point to Point Protocol). Both enable data packets to be sent in parallel across multiple links. These links may be dynamically added or removed.
Although operating as a single logical link at the customer premises, most second generation multilink solutions are point to point, not end to end, so require the service provider to terminate each bundle of links at every access point using multilink capable access equipment. As a result, service providers have been reluctant to invest in multilink access services and the penetration of ML-PPP has been limited to predominantly 128Kbps ISDN.
Multilink Frame Relay (MFR) enables bundling of multiple Frame Relay links between the customer and its provider. End-to- End MFR also supports site to site multilink connections across a Frame Relay network.
Although End-to-End MFR is a strong solution for private line-based Frame-only networks, it does present some limitations. MFR cannot provide bundling in non-Frame networks, has no inherent dial-failover facility, is limited to T1-type connections and is usually confined to high-end equipment. Furthermore, End-to-End MFR does not guarantee dynamic bandwidth scaling through the addition and removal of links at each site, on demand.
ML-IP addresses all these limitations by moving multilink to the IP layer. It supports any IP-based customer network and does not require service provider involvement or investment. It is a “layer 3” method of aggregating IP links without the need for technology swap outs, allowing bandwidth to be scaled incrementally. Furthermore, ML-IP implements IP link directed routing. This manages the transfer of independent packets across an arbitrary number of paths, between multiple sites. ML-IP operates across any provider network that supports IP access links (Internet, T3/T1, F-R, ATM).
Three factors limit the widespread business use of broadband access technologies: availability, expense and reliability. The types of access available to businesses include T3/T1 private circuits, ATM, Frame Relay, xDSL, Cable, Wireless, ISDN and PSTN. Although businesses would like to select the most cost effective high-speed access method, they usually find themselves limited to a subset of choices. As a result, the only method of increasing bandwidth is well outside their budget.
With ML-IP, businesses can utilize any combination of the above access types to deliver global broadband WAN access. It also delivers a fault tolerant access solution through ML-IP’s link fallback and automatic fail-over to ML-IP’s dial backup.
Because ML-IP integrates with any access type, customers can build broadband networks with the lowest cost bandwidth. This access type independence also gives businesses all the bandwidth they need at every site, regardless of the services offered by the local provider.
The most common method of delivering a distributed data network is a leased line between offices, but this is costly and can become cumbersome where many locations are involved.
The search for an alternative to leased line connections has led to an assortment of Wide Area Networking (WAN) technologies. The more conventional WAN technologies include several managed private networks, the most popular being Frame Relay. Frame Relay connections are trusted and proven, making them preferred for business critical services, especially in high-traffic routes. However, Frame Relay is expensive for low-traffic routes, unavailable in many remote locations, and is difficult to scale beyond the maximum CIR.
The rise of the Internet has created a widespread demand for solutions that use this ubiquitous, public infrastructure to securely link branch offices together and allow network resources to be accessed remotely. As a result, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are becoming a convincing method of providing data connections to branch offices and remote workers. A VPN that uses the Internet offers businesses far greater flexibility and lower costs than point to point or managed private connections.
However, this dependency on the Internet has created some challenges that organizations must tackle. These challenges lie in four areas:
ePipe has developed a third generation Multilink technology called Multilink IP (ML-IP) that uniquely addresses these challenges, as well as offering many other advantages over alternative WAN solutions. ML-IP is ground breaking, patent-pending technology; proven in the field to affordably deliver maximum performance and reliability to distributed data networks.
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