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Issue of September 2006 

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‘‘MPLS separation is better than VLAN separation’’

Dr Kireeti Kompella, one of the founders of MPLS technology and a Fellow Member of Juniper Networks, gives his take on the unrealised potential of MPLS within enterprises.

MPLS started out in the service provider space. Now many enterprises are using or considering use of the technology. What’s the actual status of enterprise MPLS at the moment?

Although MPLS started out in the service provider space, it has a strong enterprise focus. This was very evident in the recently-held MPLS World Congress 2006, where at least one part dealt with MPLS’ role in the enterprise.

At the moment, enterprises are trying to understand MPLS technology better after seeing how service providers are using it. Big enterprises have already started to use MPLS in a major way.

In fact, many of these organisations have started to become service providers. They do this by providing services to companies within the group itself. This is happening internationally, and will become common in India as well.

Apart from these, where do you see MPLS heading in the enterprise space?

When it comes to organisations, MPLS within the internal IT network is the next major thing to watch out for. For example, a telecom service provider in India already uses this approach, which provides multiple benefits on different fronts such as traffic engineering and security. In fact, MPLS separation is better than VLAN separation of the internal network. VLANs talk in terms of IP addresses while MPLS can use MAC or IP addresses depending on the organisation’s needs.

But isn’t MPLS separation a costlier proposition than the VLAN equivalent?

If you look at it closely, the organisation’s real expenditure is not in capex since they will recover it due to depreciation over three to five years. The actual big investment is in familiarising themselves with the new MPLS infrastructure. That is an ongoing expense. This is where organisations have to take a call between the need for management of the network vis-à-vis the cost of continuing with what they already have in place.

Anil Patrick R

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Indian Express - Business Publications Division

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