What is MPLS?

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MPLS stands for Multi Protocol Label Switching and refers to a switching technology, which is used to regulate data traffic as well as packet forwarding in a network. One of the distinct features of MPLS is that it encompasses packets in the existence of various network protocols.

The traditional IP routing involves the analysis of packets at each hop, and then a forwarding decision with the use of an analysis of the network header and routing table lookup. On the other hand, an MPLS network involves the designation of labels on each node for packets that are carrying data, and the forwarding decision is based solely on the label headers. The MPLS is not similar to the traditional routing mechanism because the packet header is analyzed just once and the forwarding decision is considered to be “label-based,” which allows fast transmission of packets between nodes that are local-local and local-remote.

The MPLS intends to provide a type of unified data carrying service for packet switching and circuit-based clients. In addition, it was also intended for eliminating protocol dependency on various datalink layer technologies, including the SONET or Synchronous Optical Network, Frame Relay, Ethernet, and ATM.

In 1997, the Internet Engineering Task Force’s MPLS Working Group was created and the MPLS RFC was first launched in 2001. The RFC 3031 indicates the architecture of MPLS, while the 3032 indicates the label stack encoding.

Label switching enables a device to perform the same operations with the use of ATM switches. Compared to the traditional IP routing, ATM switches and label lookups are much quicker. Due to the advancements in packet switching, MPLS was able to overcome the setbacks of ATM and was able to provide the benefit of maintaining traffic engineering. However, because MPLS is dependent on routing protocols when it comes to transfer of data, it is more complicated to manage.

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