As the number of enterprise applications being deployed increases, it has become a strategic imperative to ensure both the security and quality of service of those applications. As a result, demand for Multiprotocol Layer Switching (MPLS) networking has never been greater.

In fact, the U.S. Carrier Ethernet Leaderboard report from Vertical Systems Group finds that the fastest growing Ethernet application for 2013 continues to be IP/MPLS VPNs. And even though MPLS is already widely deployed, a separate report from the research firm TeleGeography finds that deployments of Ethernet over MPLS (EoMPLS) grew 12 percent in 2013.

MPLS lines are fundamentally more efficient, because they direct data from one network node to the next using short path labels rather than long network addresses. That approach avoids complex lookups in a routing table that can consume bandwidth better allocated to applications over time.

Historically, the primary driver of MPLS usage has been to guarantee quality of service and security. But thanks to the rising popularity of video and mobile computing, the number of latency-sensitive applications running across the WAN has been steadily increasing.

Small to midsize enterprises, in particular, are making use of MPLS services as an alternative to basic Internet services. This is because the quality of basic service can be spotty when the number of applications accessing a common Internet backbone increases significantly with each passing day.

The only way to absolutely ensure the quality of those applications is to run them within an MPLS line. This approach not only guarantees bandwidth and application performance, it also more effectively secures the applications. Security is key, as the volume and sophistication of the attacks being launched against enterprise applications is rising.

Demand for new and existing classes of enterprise applications is not going to fall any time soon. MPLS provides enterprise IT organizations with the control plane needed to manage Layer 2 and 3 networking services over a single network in a way that guarantees the quality of service being provided to those applications.

Organizations rise to the challenge

The challenge facing IT organizations is prioritizing which enterprise applications in their portfolio most need access to MPLS lines. The good news is that with the rise of software-defined networking (SDN) technologies, managing that control plane will soon be simpler than ever. That level of control is going to be especially important to enterprise IT organizations that need to manage cloud computing deployments across distributed networks. For all intents and purposes, the WAN is rapidly emerging as the backbone through which enterprise IT organizations will manage access to cloud applications hosted in data centers located throughout the world.

The most reliable and secure way possible to ensure consistent access to enterprise applications is with an MPLS network. This almost guarantees that for the foreseeable future, MPLS networks are going to be a foundational element of any enterprise application delivery strategy.

Michael Vizard is an independent business writer and the author of this blog. AT&T has sponsored this blog post.