MPLS networks are Wide Area Network configurations that allow enterprises to connect LANs and Data Centers to main offices, remotes offices, and even individual users, across any geographic footprint.

Less expensive than private point to point networks, MPLS is the technology of choice for multiple applications and protocols carried over one global wide area network.

About MPLS

Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) is a mechanism in high-performance telecommunications networks which directs and carries data from one network node to the next. MPLS makes it easy to create "virtual links" between distant nodes. It can encapsulate packets of various network protocols.

MPLS is a highly scalable, protocol agnostic, data-carrying mechanism. In an MPLS network, data packets are assigned labels. Packet-forwarding decisions are made solely on the contents of this label, without the need to examine the packet itself. This allows one to create end-to-end circuits across any type of transport medium, using any protocol. The primary benefit is to eliminate dependence on a particular Data Link Layer technology, such as ATM, frame relay, SONET or Ethernet, and eliminate the need for multiple Layer 2 networks to satisfy different types of traffic. MPLS belongs to the family of packet-switched networks.

MPLS operates at an OSI Model layer that is generally considered to lie between traditional definitions of Layer 2 (Data Link Layer) and Layer 3 (Network Layer), and thus is often referred to as a "Layer 2.5" protocol. It was designed to provide a unified data-carrying service for both circuit-based clients and packet-switching clients. It can be used to carry many different kinds of traffic, including IP packets, as well as native ATM, SONET, and Ethernet frames.

One of the most widely used features of MPLS allows real-time applications like voice and video to operate with a higher Class of Service giving them priority over non-real-time applications such as browsing and email. Earlier private network WANs used either Frame Relay or ATM network protocols. Most of these private networks are being migrated to MPLS primarily to consolidate all applications over a single IP network.

Advantages of MPLS

  • Flexibility - MPLS enables a single converged network to support both new and legacy services, creating an efficient migration path to an IP-based infrastructure. MPLS operates over both legacy (DS3, SONET) and new infrastructure (10/100/1000/10G Ethernet) and networks (IP, ATM, Frame Relay, Ethernet, and TDM).
  • Efficiency - MPLS enables traffic engineering. Explicit traffic routing and engineering help squeeze more data into available bandwidth.
  • Convergence - MPLS supports the delivery of services with Quality of Service (QoS) guarantees. Packets can be marked for high quality, enabling providers to maintain a specified low end-to-end latency for voice and video.
  • Simplicity - MPLS reduces router processing requirements, since routers simply forward packets based on fixed labels.
  • Security - MPLS provides the appropriate level of security to make IP as secure as Frame Relay in the WAN, while reducing the need for encryption on public IP networks.
  • Scalability - MPLS VPNs scale better than customer-based VPNs since they are provider-network-based, reducing the configuration and management requirements for the customer.
  • Economical - Save on network costs when compared to Frame Relay and Private Line networks.
  • Reach – MPLS can connect locations in the same city, around the U.S., or across the globe.