- Published on - Feb 25, 2022
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First, MPLS VPN full form is MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) for creating VPN (virtual private networks). When it comes to VPN infrastructures, the MPLS VPN is the most efficient one. MPLS VPN definition is quite simple. It enables the utilization of multiple protocol switching techniques to ensure its services. Significantly, it consists of numerous interconnected sites to the core network of the service provider.
In the MPLS VPN network, provider edge devices are connected to the customer edge devices for ensuring the smooth and convenient flow of data packets. It prefers the switching level rather than the routing level for enabling the data packet advancement in the network. Moreover, the MPLS VPN network uses private and exclusive routing protocols to ensure network integration in multiple geographical locations.
Thus, MPLS bandwidth becomes an ideal way for businesses to connect with the platforms by adopting cloud computing in their networks.
So, if you want to know ‘what is MPLS’ or ‘what MPLS architecture is,’ followed by several other questions related to MPLS VPN technology, then this article is the perfect way to get all the answers for a better understanding.
What is MPLS?
As per the MPLS definition, it means Multi-Protocol Label Switching that speeds up and shapes the traffic flow. It is used within computer network infrastructures to speed up the time of a data packet to flow from one node to another. It enables computer networks to be faster and easier to manage by using short path labels instead of long network addresses for routing network packets. Some of the major benefits of MPLS are scalability, assured QoS (Quality of Service), better utilization of bandwidth, reduced network congestion, and seamless user experience.
What Is An MPLS Header?
The MPLS header is a part of the OSI model. It is added between the link layer and network layer header. The topmost label is checked whenever the MPLS router receives a labeled packet. A swap, pop (dispose of), or push (impose) operation is done on the label stack of the packet, depending on the contents of the label. The size of an MPLS header is 4 bytes.
Is MPLS a VPN?
When it comes to the question ‘ Is MPLS a VPN,’ the answer stands out to be no. The MPLS and the VPN systems are explicitly designed to change the way of connecting to the internet while helping every user maintain their online privacy. However, the key difference between them lies in their approaches.
Virtual Protocol Networks or VPNs are one of the many applications provided by the MPLS. Other applications include Quality of Service (QoS) and traffic engineering (TE).
As it’s commonly said, MPLS ensures a labeled diagram or map for your packets of data, enabling them to travel more privately and rapidly between the routers. It’s because of the eliminated need for multiple IP lookups. However, a VPN also uses IP lookups but protects your personal details by transmitting them via a virtual tunnel. The VPN ensures optimal encryption before routing it via a VPN server.
What is MPLS VPN?
MPLS VPN can be defined as a type of VPN infrastructure that utilizes multiprotocol label switching techniques to deliver its services. It is a suite of different MPLS-based VPN technologies that provide the ability to utilize multiple protocols and technologies for creating and managing communications in a VPN environment.
A Brief History: The Introduction of MPLS VPN
Primarily, MPLS connectivity means an efficient IP routing technique. It was developed to function as an effective and efficient alternative to conventional IP routing techniques. However, the network had no smooth functioning feature due to the daily inspection and extreme time consumption of the routing table needed for such techniques.
In addition, the conventional techniques often delivered poor performance or performance failure when the data size became too big. Thus, the MPLS network diagram was developed to enable smooth functioning and identification of packet routes. Also, the consistent enhancement of the MPLS bandwidth options has played a key role in boosting its security, flexibility, and engineering advantages.
How Does MPLS VPN Work?
When determining ‘ how does MPLS VPN work,’ understand things in a layman’s language. In simple terms, you can consider the MPLS as a way of mailing a packet. Networks had to carry the task of looking inside every other data packet included in all the routers for developing and operating connections. This is done for checking the location where the data packet is sent and whether its smoothly functioning or not. It’s just like getting insight on any shipment at various post offices along your way to explore where the package is sent or headed.
The data packets get labeled by the MPLS network when they step into the network (post office). This MPLS network is a part of an Ingress router. Now, the labeling is done so that every router (postman) would know the exact locations where the data packets are to be transmitted, without the need for opening and checking the data packages repeatedly.
Know About the MPLS VPN Architecture
There are two different modules that split up the entire MPLS architecture. These two modules include - the forwarding module and the control module. Both modules aim to alleviate performance failure and establish a structured network environment. These modules are further subdivided into components. Each of these components consists of some specific network functionality, which includes:
The Label: Every information gathered for the MPLS routers is held by an identification process known as the label. This identifier plays a key role in the adequate route determination through which data can be forwarded.
Experimental: For enhancing the quality of service (QoS), the network widely uses the experimental bits. They enable the network to determine how the labels should be marked and which ones to be forwarded.
Bottom-of-Stack: The MPLS router gets aware of the traveling of the labels through the Bottom-of-Stack only when those labels are at their last stage of the journey and there are no more labels left to be evaluated or forwarded. If this happens, consider the router to be an egress router.
Time-To-Live: This option enables identification of the number of hops allowed to packet to make prior to getting discarded from the network by the router.
Different Types of VPN
VPN is abbreviated for Virtual Private Network. It enables the user to connect to any private network over the internet in a highly secure and private way. The different types of VPNs can be classified into two types:
Remote Access VPN: It enables a user to get access to all the resources and services of a private network remotely.
Site-To-Site VPN: Also known as a Router-To-Router VPN, it is commonly used by large companies for connecting the network of one office location to another. It also consists of the intranet and extranet VPN.
Why does a company need an MPLS VPN?
To manage today’s dynamic converged application traffic patterns, enterprises need to deploy MPLS VPN in their environment. The question is – public internet is already very fast and has a near-ubiquitous global reach. Why do businesses still need an MPLS based VPN?
The apt answer to this question is that public internet only focuses on the transport of data packets with no consideration of QoS (Quality of Service), uptime guarantee, and offers limited capabilities. Though for the past few years, public internet has worked fine for e-mail and file transfers, there is a need for an advanced protocol that can support converged applications and multimedia traffic.
Another reason is video being the fastest-growing application these days, bringing immense traffic for profitable business growth. A single commercial internet connection often comes up with capacity limitations. This connection doesn’t have enough capacity to support various applications and multimedia traffic. If enterprises purchase and manage multiple connections to achieve the desired capacity during peak hours, they will eventually add costs and complexity to the equation. They also need to achieve the low latency required for real-time communications to work properly.
Decoding the Value of MPLS VPN:
An MPLS VPN is a business-grade service that avoids the public Internet and the delays, outages, and risks that go with it. It provides layers of enhanced services specifically targeted toward business-grade traffic and handles multicast transmissions in the network.
Let’s look at the advantages of MPLS based VPN:
- It empowers businesses with additional security, while the CoS – Class of Service capabilities prioritize and manage traffic so that the important traffic is delivered first.
- It translates into re-routing around failures in milliseconds rather than seconds or minutes to maintain business continuity.
- Enables business sites and mobile users to exchange voice, data and video traffic directly with one another, rather than requiring traffic to traverse an extra “hop” at a central site, which slows performance, to get to the preferred destination.
- Businesses nowadays are taking advantage of real-time apps for better collaboration across distributed geographies. In this situation, the CoS and any-to-any connectivity ensure consistent high-performance of multiple applications.
- As MPLS VPNs are owned and operated by a single network service provider, a provider can manage the network so that your traffic behaves as per your policies and priorities.
VPN MPLS Advantages and Disadvantages
What are the benefits of MPLS VPN?
MPLS VPN provides better efficiency and has a modern structure that allows it to offer multiple new control features to the MPLS telecom and MPLS cloud service provider. Many organisations looking for MPLS alternatives have noticed the benefits of MPLS VPN. Some of the expected benefits are:
The lower cost of an MPLS link makes it one of the best. MPLS makes use of a 2.5-layer technology. This allows users to share network resources and enables the private routing of valuable data. It is more cost-efficient and has many operational advantages over layer three technologies.
Moreover, MPLS users also get an additional VPN layer of security along with other efficiencies. Therefore, it is ideal for large-scale organisations looking for networking solutions. Moreover, as it is an IP-based technique, it is much more private than other services.
Another significant benefit of VPN MPLS service is the ability of the technology to assign the Quality of Service feature to continuous traffic. As we know, MPLS link works by using a system that labels various data packets, allowing customers to determine the prioritisation and plan the transmission accordingly.
Because of the ability of the MPLS network to control and manage the Quality of Service, customers can choose to get different bandwidths or port sizes. Moreover, they also get the ability to decide if there is any congestion on their link.
Better Scalability Scope
- Another significant advantage of MPLS connectivity is the ease of scalability that it provides. Earlier, many nailed-up circuits were always complex and unreasonable to scale. But with the MPLS VPN, using pure IP routing changes the game as it is highly cost-effective and thus increases the chances of scalability.
- Regarding the scalability of more extensive networks, the MPLS network service allows users to configure the network automatically. Moreover, it also provides them with the option of setting up the tunnels as well as labelled paths.
- MPLS in networking is protocol agnostic in nature. Because of this, the user can diverge different types of traffic from the system without worrying about the type of traffic.
Better Traffic Routing
The simple crux of the function of MPLS is that it works by implanting labels on the data packets as they move between the networks. Therefore, there is no need to find the IP header and look for information. Instead, network elements can directly read the label information provided and move the packets to their desired location.
Some other benefits of using MPLS IP VPN are that they provide higher reliability and better predictability of traffic handling in the network. As the LSPs or the label-switched paths are always determined from before, the data packets will only travel in the path they were assigned.
Disadvantages of MPLS VPN
Some common disadvantages of using MPLS VPN are as follows:
MPLS VPN requires optimisation of WAN to ensure streamlining of the delivery, which results in additional costs along with the solution, which is already costly.
When the locations of the offices are spread across countries or states, it can take longer to deploy. In cases with higher location diversity, it can take over six months to get the site up and running.
MPLS VPN is a P2P connectivity technology and not point-to-cloud; because of this, they might not directly connect with cloud and SaaS applications.
Smart VPN by Tata Tele Business Services:
Smart VPN by Tata Tele Business Services is a multi-protocol label switching (MPLS)-backed connectivity that can be used to establish VPN across many Indian cities and remote towns. MPLS builds dedicated links between sites with a high quality of service (QoS) and is also backed by a service level agreement (SLA).
Benefits of Smart VPN Services:
- Offers high speed, optimum bandwidth, low latency, and reliable security.
- Enables businesses to overcome regional restrictions to access websites based in any country.
- Allows easy and uninterrupted usage of apps with audio and video features.
- Provides seamless web conferencing experiences.
- Protecting employees from the usage of untrustworthy Wi-Fi in public Internet zones.
- Strictly maintains anonymity by concealing the actual location during Internet usage.
- Saves cost for network maintenance by minimizing the need for multiple hubs on the office network.
With more than 100 points of strategic presence, TTBS can effectively provide MPLS-based Smart VPN solutions to enterprises of all sizes.
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MPLS VPN, or MPLS virtual private network, is one of the most followed technologies today. In MPLS VPN, while the MPLS technology becomes the backbone of the overall network, the VPN service is provided on top of it. The virtual network is built on existing network infrastructure and is known as an overlay. Because of this combination of building an overlay on an underlay, the scalability is better. Moreover, it also provides better multi-tenancy while enabling virtualisation.
An MPLS VPN technology uses the concept of MPLS, where labelling is done for every data package and then combines it with a VPN layer for global remote access.
What makes an IPSec VPN different is that it creates encrypted IP tunnels. The IP tunnels are created from one site to another using a public network. But in an MPLS VPN, every corporate user gets their IP and uses layer 2 to move traffic from one point to another. As a result, both of these technologies are more efficient than private lines. However, while IPSec is more secure as it requires users to authenticate, encrypt, and decrypt traffic, it involves a higher initial setup cost.