What Is MPLS And How Does It Work?



MPLS or multiprotocol label switching was introduced to the world in the late 1990s. This mechanism helps in forwarding data packets on any network protocol. Its primary benefit lies in the fact that it can speed up the process of packet forwarding. Today it is an immensely sophisticated technology which delivers benefits such as traffic engineering and enhances resiliency of communications. Most telecom carriers and service providers use MPLS as the normal standard for network deployments. The other term that one can be familiar with when one is talking about multiprotocol label switching is something known as GMPLS or generalized multiprotocol label switching.

Features: But if one were to talk about MPLS and its features then it is also essential to know how MPLS works. Without getting overly technical when describing the operations of multiprotocol label switching here’s taking a look at the way this technology has transformed communications. MPLS first starts off with traffic tagging. In this case packets can be considered as the traffic. The tags are nothing but labels which help in identifying the label switched paths also known as LSPs. Upon receipt of the packet, the router will read this tag and identify the label and go on to identify the LSP.

Once this information has been processed, the router will consult its forwarding table and figure out the best path to forward the packet. It will also identify which label is to be used for the next hop for the packet. Each hop uses different labels and the right label is chosen by the router or the switch which is scheduled to perform the forwarding operation. Now, this may seem like a complex process but it is, in reality, a very simple process and results in extremely swift and effective forwarding procedures.

The one nuance to understand here is the fact that MPLS describes and clarifies the forwarding mechanism. As far as the establishment of the label switched paths is concerned it will use other protocols of the same. Here there are two independent protocols that come together to establish the LSP. One is the routing protocol and the other the signaling protocol. The routing protocol is all about information pertaining to network topology which helps in automatic calculation of the route of the label switched path. The signaling protocol, as the term denotes, communicates to the switches which lie along the route about the labels and the links that are to be used for each label switched path.

Grow thick anodyne flowers

Routing protocols and signaling protocols in turn have protocols such as OSPF and LDP. These abbreviations stand for ‘Open Shortest Path First’ and ‘Label Distribution Protocol’ respectively. They are also examples of the few protocols used by routing and signaling protocols respectively. All these terminologies can be put into perspective! Take for instance an MPLS network that operates on the Open Shortest Path First routing protocol. This means that the Internet circuit lies at the central site and all sites gain access to every other site. At the end of the day the primary purpose of MPLS is to deploy layer 3 and layer 2 VPNs.

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