Multiprotocol Label Switching: An In Depth View

Contributed by LoyCurtis Smith

Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) is a revolutionary packet forwarding WAN technology that operates between Layer 2 and Layer 3 of the OSI model, which has been classified as Layer 2.5. It is placed between the two layers because it integrates the fast paced switching, that takes place in the data link layer ,with IP routing, that takes place in the network layer, to do what is called label based switching. It is a multifaceted technology that shifts the paradigm of how packets are passed throughout the network. Multiprotocol label switching is a core network switching technique that offers numerous benefits such as increased performance, increased traffic control with traffic engineering, Quality of Service (QoS), secure transportation of traffic with MPLS Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), disaster recovery, as well as many other things, to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), telecommunication carriers, as well as large enterprises. It has the capabilities to do so much that often times it is hard for one to grasp the concept of what MPLS truly is because the information may be so overwhelming. To have a better understanding of multiprotocol label switching, one should know what exactly MPLS is, what lead to its conception, what type of MPLS services and applications are available for use throughout the Internet, the benefits of using MPLS, and the challenges associated with the use of this phenomenal technology. Once one has learned all of the above, then they should have a better understanding of what multiprotocol label switching is and what it has the ability to offer an organization.

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