MPLS has been a frequent topic of conversation in this newsletter (see below for examples of MPLS issues we discussed last year) and today we return to the subject to examine what is motivating organizations to deploy MPLS-based services and how far they are in their plans.In our recent survey of 285 IT professionals, 48% of respondents indicated that MPLS deployment would have either some impact or a significant impact on their company's IT budgets and infrastructures over the next year.When we drilled down into the survey data, we found a strong relationship between the deployment of VoIP and the deployment of MPLS. In particular, the vast majority of companies that are either making their initial deployment of VoIP or expanding their VoIP deployment are also planning on expanding their QoS policies. The vast majority of these companies expect to expand their QoS policies by implementing MPLS.When we talked to IT organizations about their deployment of MPLS we were not surprised that many of them also pointed to VoIP deployment as a major reason for deploying MPLS. Part of their reasoning was that voice traffic follows an any-to-any pattern, so they value the any-to-any connectivity that MPLS offers. Another part of their reasoning was the realization that voice requires stringent levels of network performance, so they also value what most of the service providers refer to as their real-time traffic class.However, when we talked to IT organizations about MPLS two things did catch us a bit by surprise. One was the length of time it took some companies to actually get serious about deploying MPLS services. As one person we talked to put it, his company has been 'dabbling' with MPLS for several years, started to deploy MPLS last year, and now that deployment is 'picking up steam.'The second thing that surprised us was that a number of the people we talked to were quite clear in the fact that VoIP deployment had nothing to do with their company's movement to MPLS. These people were motivated to reduce WAN costs.Next time, we'll discuss MPLS service levels and a future newsletter will discuss MPLS pricing.* Here are examples of other MPLS issues we've covered in the past: The development of MPLS VPNs at Layer 2; the use of MPLS in private networks; and how MPLS enables traffic engineering.