• United States

MPLS-based IP: a hot technology for 2006

Jan 09, 20062 mins

* MPLS-based services offer cost-effective express lane for all WAN flows

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are you’ve heard about MPLS, the technology virtually every major carrier has selected for its network underpinnings. MPLS has been around since the mid-1990s, and services have been available since at least 2000. So why did I give it the thumbs-up when Network World asked me to nominate one of the top six technologies for 2006?

Simple: Leading-edge enterprises are flocking to MPLS-based services and reaping major benefits as a result. Nemertes Research recently benchmarked best practices at 75 major enterprises and found that 57% of benchmark participants are either deploying or planning to deploy MPLS-based services.

Among companies that pride themselves on aggressive technology deployment, the trend is even stronger. Nemertes recently benchmarked the Wall Street Technology Association’s (WSTA) member companies to determine the state of IT deployment today and future directions for tomorrow. (WSTA is a not-for-profit educational organization and forum for financial technology professionals.)

WSTA members tend to be large (annual revenue in the range of $400 million to $10 billion) and spend lavishly on IT. Moreover, they overwhelmingly identify their corporate IT cultures as either aggressive or “bleeding-edge.” Of these hard-core IT shops, 50% say they’re using MPLS today; the remainder say they’re moving toward it.

Key reasons for the high level of interest in MPLS include its optimized support for critical applications, cost savings and ability to future-proof networks. These characteristics result from MPLS’ architecture, which welds the best characteristics of packet- and circuit-switched technology: Although traffic is packetized in IP, ATM, frame or Ethernet formats, or a combination, MPLS adds a label that enables traffic flows (the packets that comprise a session or transaction) to be managed directly, granting those flows optimized QoS. MPLS also enables traffic engineering, where carriers direct traffic along predetermined paths, which makes it easier to manage network buildouts.

These features allow MPLS to multiplex diverse traffic types effectively onto a common infrastructure, support any-to-any traffic patterns cost-effectively and ensure that individual applications get the network performance they require.

For the full story (and to see our picks for other hot technologies in ’06), please go to: