MPLS introduction


IP-based Internet prevailed in the mid 1990s. The technology was simple and cost little to deploy. However, IP technology, which relies on the longest match algorithm, is not the most efficient choice for forwarding packets.

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Based on IP routing and control protocols, MPLS is a technology that provides connection-oriented switching for the network layer. MPLS uses short labels of fixed length to encapsulate packets at different link layers, and switches tags based on the encapsulated labels. MPLS has two planes: control plane and forwarding plane. The control plane is connectionless, featuring powerful and flexible routing functions to meet network requirements of various new applications. It is mainly responsible for label distribution, setup of label forwarding tables, and setup and removal of label switched paths (LSPs). The forwarding plane is also called the data plane. It is connection-oriented and supports Layer 2 networks such as ATM and Ethernet networks. The forwarding plane adds or deletes the labels of IP packets, and forwards the packets according to the label forwarding table.

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