Multiprotocol Label Switching

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This paper will discuss one of the most popular and successful networking technologies in recent memory. This technology is known as Multiprotocol Label Switching, or MPLS. Inspired by Ipsilon Networks, developed by Cisco, and standardized by the IETF, this service has become a dominant competitor. Independent think-tank, Nemertes Research has estimated that nearly eighty five percent of companies are already using MPLS today. Multiprotocol Label switching works at layer 2 and is a new, alternative WAN service. Although it significantly differs from more traditional WAN implementations, the creators were considerate of interoperability. Thus, MPLS is compatible with other popular methods. Not only is it compatible, but it's also a means of converging network infrastructure.

In normal, connectionless packet switched networks, each router does a lot of work. Not only must it run an algorithm to build it's own routing table, but it also has to analyze each packet it receives and test it against the routing table to make forwarding decisions. This can be a very intense process for the router. More often than not, the Router parses more information than it requires to make it's decisions. MPLS can make this process much more efficient. At the moment that a packet enters the WAN, it is deeply analyzed by the ingress router. MPLS ingress and egress routers are refereed to as Label Edge Routers (LER), and all other routers within the WAN are Label Switch Routers (LSRs). The router uses the information it gathers from this analysis to create a label (sometimes called a tag). This tag is created from IP header information, along with other data that normal operations would not be able to glean from the IP header, such as port numb...

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