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- Scalable support for Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
MPLS enables VPN services to be supported in service provider networks, thereby greatly accelerating Internet growth. The use of MPLS for VPNs provides an attractive alternative to the building of VPNs by means of either ATM or Frame Relay permanent virtual circuits (PVCs) or various forms of tunneling to interconnect routers at customer sites. The MPLS VPN model is highly scalable and can accommodate increasing numbers of sites and customers. The MPLS VPN model also supports "any-to-any" communication among VPN sites without requiring a full mesh of PVCs or the backhauling (suboptimal routing) of traffic across the service provider network. For each MPLS VPN user, the network of the service provider appears to function as a private IP backbone over which the user can reach other sites within the VPN organization, but not the sites of any other VPN organization. From a user perspective, the MPLS VPN model enables network routing to be dramatically simplified. For example, rather than needing to manage routing over a topologically complex virtual backbone composed of many PVCs, an MPLS VPN user can generally employ the backbone of the service provider as the default route in communicating with all of the other VPN sites.
- Explicit routing capabilities
Explicit routing employs "constraint-based routing," in which the path for a traffic flow is the shortest path that meets the resource requirements (constraints) of the traffic flow. In MPLS traffic engineering, factors such as bandwidth requirements, media requirements, and the priority of one traffic flow versus another can be taken into account. These traffic engineering capabilities enable the administrator of a service provider network to perform the following tasks: control traffic flow in the network, reduce congestion in the network and make best use of network resources. Thus, the network administrator can specify the amount of traffic expected to flow between various points in the network (thereby establishing a traffic matrix), while relying on the routing system to perform the following tasks: calculate the best paths for network traffic, set up the explicit paths to carry the traffic.
MPLS is a high-performance packet forwarding technology that integrates the performance and traffic management capabilities of data link layer (Layer 2) switching with the scalability, flexibility, and performance of network-layer (Layer 3) routing. It enables service providers to meet challenges brought about by explosive growth and provides the opportunity for differentiated services without necessitating the sacrifice of existing infrastructure.
Specifically, MPLS can efficiently enable the delivery of IP services over an ATM switched network. It supports the creation of different routes between a source and a destination on a purely router-based Internet backbone. Service providers who use MPLS can save money and increase revenue and productivity.