MPLS, also called Multi Protocol Label Switching, a mechanism that is used in telecommunications and computer networks. This technology is based on the switching of data packets in the form of a “label”. It was in the 1990s that MPLS was introduced to relieve existing networks. Specifically, MPLS was developed in 1996 by a group of engineers from Ipsilon Networks. In the beginning, this mechanism had to function above all on connections such as ATMs.
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MPLS is a real revolution. Indeed, with the advent of the Internet, the need for network connections is ever greater. However, in those years, the telephone and Internet networks were separate, which cost much more than if they were used on a single network. MPLS technology will therefore relieve routing systems. Thus, instead of defining the ideal path for the data packets, the MPLS network makes it possible to have an entry point and an exit point. The data is then transferred via tags.
What is MPLS used for?
In the 1990s, this MPLS technology enabled Internet providers to develop their offers throughout the territory, in a fairly short time. It is clear that MPLS has played an important role in the development of telecommunications networks. Even though today high performance routers are mostly used, MPLS is still used in different situations. Indeed, it currently makes it possible to control the data flows of a network. In addition, this technology is also used in virtual private networks (VPN). In this specific case, MPLS can be used in the context of virtual communication networks that use the Internet as a means of transport.
Moreover, you should know that there are two types of MPLS networks:
- layer 2 VPN: in this first scenario, the virtual private network can be used for remote connections.
- layer 3 VPN: in the second case, the virtual network will be based on a single IP infrastructure.
How does MPLS work?
MPLS uses different protocols to carry data packets over the network. Each telecommunications player will then assign each packet a label, which is essential for the correct path of the information transmitted. When the MPLS network follows different paths, we then speak of LPS or Label Switched Paths. They will allow providers to predict the paths taken by data packets, and those that will be more suitable for private and public networks.
The various routers on the network are often present at the entrance and at the exit. There are also different ways to configure the LPS. It is possible to do it in configuration, manual, semi-manual or automatic. The entry router will add an MPLS header which will be introduced between the second and third layer, also called “Push Operation”.