MPLS basics

The exponential growth of the Internet over the past several years has placed a tremendous strain on the service provider networks.

Not only has there been an increase in the number of users but there has been a multifold increase in connection speeds, backbone traffic and newer applications. Initially ordinary data applications required only store and forward capability in a best effort manner. The newer applications like voice, multimedia traffic and real-time e-commerce applications are pushing toward higher bandwidth and better guarantees, irrespective of the dynamic changes or interruptions in the network.

To honor the service level guarantees, the service providers not only have to provide large data pipes (which are also costlier), but also look for architectures which can provide & guarantee QoS guarantees and optimal performance with minimal increase in the cost of network resources.

MPLS technology enables Service Providers to offer additional services for their customers, scale their current offerings, and exercise more control over their growing networks by using its traffic engineering capabilities. On the other hand, Diffserv using its scalable differentiation enables differential pricing scheme for providing differential QoS. Putting it simply, MPLS is a switching technology used to get packets from one place to another through a series of hops while DiffServ governs what happens to the packet at each hop. The marriage of these two technologies, Diffserv over MPLS, provides another interesting alternative solution to the bag of existing ones.

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