MPLS – What is it?

Multi-protocol Label Switching (MPLS) is a type of data-carrying technique for high-performance telecommunications networks that directs data from one network node to the next based on short path labels rather than long network addresses, avoiding complex lookup’s in a routing table. The labels identify virtual links (paths) between distant nodes rather than endpoints. MPLS can encapsulate packets of various network protocols, hence its name “multi-protocol”. MPLS supports a range of access technologies, including T1/E1, ATM, Frame Relay, and DSL


MPLS is a network setup that I use at work on a day to day basis. The company work for pays another company that provides the MPLS layer to us. This Network As a Service company helps get the internet connections for each of our stores, and connects them into the MPLS network, providing secure communications between the stores and the data center. This new MPLS layer will replace the older aging VPN tunnels that link the stores to the data center.

One of the great beauties of MPLS, is the fact that it essentially makes your connections between locations, into a full mesh network. And if each site is configured with a backup connection, there will essentially be zero down time.mpls-wp

MPLS operates at a layer that is generally considered to lie between traditional definitions of OSI Layer 2 (data link layer) and Layer 3 (network layer), and thus is often referred to as a layer 2.5 protocol. It was designed to provide a unified data-carrying service for both circuit-based clients and packet-switching clients which provide a datagram service model. It can be used to carry many different kinds of traffic, including IP packets, as well as native ATM, SONET, and Ethernet frames.