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The right technological upgrades can simplify network infrastructure

By Max Burkhalter
February 29, 2012
Networks are rapidly becoming more complex as virtualization and other advances change the way businesses establish their infrastructure. This is especially evident in Layer 2 infrastructure, as it bears the brunt of cloud computing and other emerging technologies. According to a recent Network Computing report, protocols such as the transparent interconnection of lots of links are emerging to meet the rising networking requirements, but organizations could also benefit by turning to some already established solutions.

The report explained that multi-protocol label switching can pay major dividends when it comes to simplifying enterprise networking requirements, especially alleviating the pressure on Layer 2 infrastructure. This is accomplished by turning away from the limitations of spanning tree protocol and focusing on a Layer 3-centric approach to the infrastructure. By focusing on the third layer, organizations can use MPLS to improve traffic routing and reduce complexity.

According to the news source, businesses have been using MPLS in the network for the past decade, and organizations can expand their use of the technology to enlarge Layer 3 network setups and reduce the complexity of Layer 2 infrastructure.

MPLS infrastructure is also capable of eliminating the need to implement VLAN systems to segment the network in light of virtualization. The report said this is achieved because MPLS allows for the use of virtual forwarding and routing instances. This allows data packets to be given two labels based on their network segment and allows the configuration to be set up to forward packets intelligently based on the two labels.

Investing in MPLS can also simplify the process of adjusting to IPv6, the news source explained. Because MPLS uses data packet labels to identify each specific transmission, the actual IP address is not nearly as important when forwarding packets between users. MPLS also allows for direct communication between devices, regardless of their IP address.

At its core, MPLS is widely considered a legacy networking technology because it has been around for so long and is ideally suited telecommunications networks, not data infrastructure. However, the protocol has evolved and the requirements of data infrastructure have changed to such an extent that the protocol is once again emerging as a solution to getting the most out of available bandwidth.

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