MPLS is still ruling the world of core networks and there really is no other protocol out there that can challenge its undisputed status as THE ultimate tunneling protocol for service providers and large enterprises.
So here are five reasons why MPLS is so irresistibly attractive when you are designing your core network infrastructure as the protocol of choice.
MPLS has revolutionised itself overtime and has been able to answer the needs of growing networks with multiple protocol stacks with little hiccups. It has been able to support the needs of modern networks with simple tweaks and updates where it has managed to tag along all types of new traffic without any change to its underlying framework. This in itself has been a huge game changer and one of the key reasons why it rules service provider networks with no real challenger in sight.
A protocol that can adapt to changing needs with minimal cost is good for business and that is exactly what MPLS has been to service providers and other types of businesses that have made use of MPLS deployment in their networks.
MPLS is very easy to scale and add more nodes as and when needed provided the underlying singling protocols have been carefully picked and configured to handle the size of label information database supported by nodes in your network.
Originally designed to support networks with multi-protocol environment, MPLS can work with pretty much any protocol out there, be it Ethernet, Frame Relay or even future protocols yet to be introduced. The reason this is possible is predominantly in the power it provides when hiding protocol data behind its label stack. Anything really can be stashed behind the label stack and sent to an MPLS destination end point with minimal difference in operation.
Traffic engineering in itself is one of the big subjects when deploying large networks. In summary, traffic engineering features allow you to take any path for a destination end point which the underlying routing protocol (IGP) did not fathom to be the best path. You can use MPLS traffic engineering features to completely ignore your IGP’s calculation for the best path and deliver traffic via the alternate path still based on the calculations made by the IGP. This coupled with the ease in switching traffic from one path to another has made MPLS the protocol of choice for networks where large traffic engineering decisions are required on the fly. LDP as we know can only be traffic engineered by fiddling with the IGP metrics but RSVP-TE brings it’s own subset of amazing traffic engineering features. That said, SPRING or Segment Routing is another MPLS protocol which is up and coming and provides more promise for the future giving us the best of both LDP and RSVP in one protocol. How well it performs is all dependent on how it is received in the coming years, but the future looks promising!
MPLS provides credible mechanisms to read into delay sensitivity being suffered by traffic. This allows traffic to be course corrected in due time and with minimal headache. Moreover, informed metrics are good for business and the return on investment on MPLS is usually always higher. In other words, the protocol pays for itself in time.
For more technical information related to MPLS’s deployment in service provider networks, refer to my post here.