Many companies are currently reaching the limits of their site networking systems. By using new technologies such as Voice-over-IP, video, Lync or e.g. terminal servers/thin clients, the demands on the network are growing more and more complex. Guaranteed bandwidths and defined transmission paths are becoming a necessity. An IP VPN via the Internet can’t provide that capacity anymore. In the past, managed solutions via ATM or frame relay were effectively unaffordable. The solution today is MPLS.
MPLS (Multi Protocol Label Switching) uses the benefits of switching for routing. MPLS works between OSI layers 2 and 3 and acts as an intermediate layer. Layer 2 is the Ethernet where the frames (data packets) are switched, i.e., the Ethernet releases the data packets to the open data stream for trafficking. The data packets are routed on layer 3 (Internet Protocol – IP). Since, however, the Ethernet transmits the data packets to the router without path specifications and without priority, the MPLS is switched between the two layers and routes the data packets on the IP network with priorities and specifies the path.
Routers define the routes for the data packets based on the respective target address and direct the packets to the next assigned router. To this end, the routers maintain internal, comprehensive tables of known networks and assigned routers. Fo each incoming packet, the routers have to run through the tables and select the most suitable route. Since the best route is not always suitable, the tables have to be run through from start to end every time. Not every router has an overview of the entire routing system, since routes can change. This makes the process even more difficult. MPLS is the solution for this, as it relieves the router by handling the calculation and route selection for the router. Instead of recalculating the routes for each data packet in each router, the MPLS assigns a label to each route. The routers analyze the target addresses of the data packets and calculate the best route. This process only takes place once when the data packet is input into the network. Each data packet is also assigned a label. The label specifies the path to which the respective packet and all additional packets should go. This creates tunnels through the network. The label contains the routing and service information and the priority. MPLS routers read the header and forward the packets in accordance with the information. Thus, MPLS routers can also be instructed to always transmit data packets via the same paths. As soon as a data packet is input with an MPLS header, the router retrieves the label from the MPLS header and compares it with its label table specified by the interface output. At the same time, the router assigns the packet a new label and transfers it to the next router. If there is no MPLS header, first the relevant router has to be determined and a label for the target IP of the packet has to be requested (this is more complicated which is why MPLS is worth using). The label is entered into the MPLS header and transferred to the next router.
MPLS is a good option for networking sites securely and so they are scalable and with “Quality of Service” and “Class of Service”, which allows time-sensitive applications such as VoIP or video to be smoothly implemented on the network. The costs for MPLS can, however, vary greatly. Factors such as the location, availability, providers, etc. play a significant role. It is therefore difficult to specify a clear price for MPLS.
For more information , consult with on of our experts or use our provider-neutral availability check with a non-binding overview of each provider’s prices.