Generalized MPLS Improves Optical
GMPLS networks take MPLS to
the next level by including TDM, Wavelengths and fiber paths.
MPLS or Multi-Protocol Label Switching
is a technology that speeds up networks and carries a variety
of protocols including IP, ATM, Frame Relay, and SONET. It does
this by encapsulating them in its own tunnels as they enter the
network and returns them to their original state when they leave.
While they're on the MPLS network, they are routed according
to simplified tags that are inserted into the packet headers.
Building this specialized network to carry
other network traffic has an advantage of being able to define
classes of service to ensure that real time data, like voice
and video, gets the bandwidth and low latency it needs to function.
The fact that this network is a multi-protocol network makes
it especially attractive to carriers who need to transport anything
and everything. Now a set of extensions called GMPLS or Generalized
Multi-Protocol Label Switching adds even more versatility to
an already accommodating network.
What is GMPLS?
While MPLS is intended to control the flow
of packets in a packet switched network, GMPLS recognizes that
there are other types of networks with elements that are not
necessarily packet oriented. For instance, TDM or time division
multiplexing, the legacy digital telephony standard and the one
used as the foundation of SONET (Synchronous Optical NETwork),
is based on time slots not packets. Packets can be carried on
TDM networks, but if they are too big they get split into multiple
time slots and reassembled later. The advantage of having all
of those nice, neat, predictable time slots is lost since they
have no relevance in the packet switched world.
GMPLS puts TDM back to work. A time slot
can be considered a label. There is no need to add more labels,
since the network always knows what data is being carried on
what time slot. Likewise, a wavelength or Lambda can be considered
a label in a WDM or wavelength division multiplexed network.
Even an entire fiber can be treated as a GMPLS label to define
a path through the network.
Advantages of GMPLS
Adding labels to everything the network
can use in deciding how to route data packets gives the GMPLS
network a lot of self-determination. It accepts data of many
different protocols at the ingress point. It then adds its own
labels which can be the MPLS "shim" type that are inserted
in the packet headers or the "implicit" type that are
associated with particular fibers, wavelengths, or TDM time slots.
The GMPLS data is routed by the label routing switches over the
predetermined paths decided at the ingress point. When packets
reach the network edge, the egress point, all labeling information
is removed and the various types of data go their separate ways
in their native protocols.
Notice that there is no mention of manual
intervention to provision circuits or set up routes. One of the
advantages of GMPLS networks is that they know what network resources
they have to work with and go about setting up and tearing down
their label switched paths as needed. As GMPLS networks become
widely deployed, it is expected that the laborious job of provisioning
services will get much easier and faster because of all this
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