What is MPLS?
Multiprotocol Label Switching, or MPLS, is a standards-approved technology for speeding up network traffic flow and making it easier to manage. The “multi-protocol” in MPLS is because this technology works with Internet Protocol (IP) in a time-saving way.
In a “traditional” Internet Protocol (IP) network, each router does an IP lookup (“routing”), to find the next destination for a packet based on its routing table, and then forwards the packet to its “next hop”. This happens at each router, with each router making its own independent routing decisions, until the final destination is reached. This approach works but MPLS can save some time and effort. A metaphor for IP could be a road-trip that a packet of data must travel, with each router as a rest-stop where a map is referred to and the next rest-stop to reach is determined, over and over, until the road-trip reaches its destination.
MPLS involves setting up a pre-determined specific path for a given sequence of packets, identified by a label (the “L” in “MPLS”) placed in each packet, thus saving the time needed for a router to look up the address to the next node to forward the packet to. Once the packet reaches the final router on its path, this label is removed from the packet and it is then delivered through normal IP routing.
MPLS VPN and Guaranteed Service Level Agreements
The integration of MPLS components, which includes Layer 3 VPNs, Layer 2 VPNs, Traffic Engineering, QoS, GMPLS, and IPV6, enables efficient, scalable, and secure networks which guarantee Service Level Agreements.
MPLS Virtual Private Networks (or “MPLS VPN”) is flexible solution which takes advantage of MPLS as a backbone to create Virtual Private Networks (“VPNs”). As result, MPLS VPN is a competitive alternative to solutions including Frame Relay, point-to-point private line service and ATM. It's an attractive alternate choice instead of non-MPLS VPNs. ISPs can offer MPLS VPN to connect geographically different sites. Customers who are choose MPLS VPNs to connect geographically different sites from each other will not have to order services such as Frame Relay, ATM circuits, or leased dedicated telco lines.
The Advantages of MPLS VPN include:
- Customization of management levels
- Guaranteeing of Quality of Service (“QOS”)
- Prioritization of applications and traffic based on importance
- Separation of data from that of other customers and the public Internet
- Connection of locations locally, nationwide or internationally
Customers can improve application performance, reduce operating costs and streamline their network management with MPLS IP-VPN service. MPLS IP-VPN service gives customers with a multi-location business a secure, cost-effective MPLS-based Wide Area Network (WAN) solution that provides superior network performance.