(MPLS) MultiProtocol Labling Switching Software Engineering 4C03Computer Network & Computer Security Dr. Kartik Krishnan Winter 2004 Final Copy Researcher: Paul Chan Student ID: 9914759 Last Revised: March 29th, 2004
4C03 Project ProposalObjectiveAs computer networks become more and more a basic staple asset forboth businesses and in general human communication. Since theadoption of the internet as a main medium of communication, we havenoticed a correlating burden on the existing hardware and softwaresystem supporting these operations. We are beginning to see that ourcurrent IP switching router configurations struggle to satisfy all thebandwidth and network throughput requirements. In addition with thegrowth of online businesses, there is a push for added security measuresto allow for transmission of sensitive data.MPLS is a hardware and software solution to this problem. By using newernetworking hardware and smarter software algorithms to direct networkdata we can achieve more efficient, flexible and secure networkcommunications.ApproachIn this report we will briefly describe what MPLS is and how it works.Moreover, we will discuss how MPLS features can improve currentnetwork conditions and lastly we will see an example of how MPLSimpacts current technology. General knowledge about IP based routingand switching is assumed as we have studied these in our 4C03Networking & Security course in great detail.ImpactThis report is intended to give this audience a brief introduction in thedeveloping networking technology due to be released sometime in thesummer of 2004. From this presentation the audience should be able togain insight into the growth of network usage and the necessity for moreefficient ways route information. It should be clear that newer technologyis needed to replace the current technology if we wish to continuesupporting increasing numbers of networked users and devices. Hencethe need for new and cleaver ways to do the things we do on a daily basis.We will show that MPLS offers many different benefits in addition to thecurrent IP network. It allows for network traffic engineering to ensurequality of service (QoS), reliability, security and data transfer efficiency.This list is only a mere fraction of the list of benefits MPLS brings to the IPbased networking domain. In depth research is needed for one tounderstand the depth and breadth of the benefits MPLS brings to ourcurrent networking architecture.
What is wrong with what we have now?As the internet becomes the standard medium to carry information to andfrom their destination we will see traditional protocols and hardware bepushed to their operating thresholds. How do we solve the problem ofincreased demands for quality network bandwidth? How do we guaranteeour packets will get from our sources to our intended destinations withoutloss delay and most importantly of all how can we know that are packetsare traveling thru authorized secure networks?Traditional networking infrastructure relay packets of information viarouters that determine the next best path each packet was to take. Basedon different routing algorithms each packet was sent down the shortestpath or quickest path whichever is deemed to be the priority. Each time apacket arrived at a router their fate would be determined by a routing tablegoverned by complex algorithms. The most basic constructs of IP routingdo not include considerations to the quality of network that the packet willtravel nor does it take into account what is the most secure path a packetcan take. It is only concerned with how it can get a packet to itsdestination while minimizing the distance (hops). MPLS or Multi ProtocolLabel switch is the answer to our concerns above. Since traditional IPnetworks have no means of labeling, categorizing or monitoring thepackets that traverse them it is nearly impossible to track and directspecific packets to ensure that priority packets get to their destination viathe right channels. MPLS technology works to solve these IPshortcomings.What is MPLSMPLS is an “overlay” protocol, meaning that MPLS uses the existingstructure of traditional IP switching enhanced with label or tags to aid inthis new way of relaying packets. MPLS takes advantage of all thebenefits of traditional IP switching and adds to it the benefits of networkquality assurance and security management.Technically MPLS is nothing more than a label header encapsulated intothe IP packet header. This label is used to categorize the packet as ittravels across the physical network thus enabling the ability for it to bemonitored tracked. MPLS hardware transforms the standard IP packetsinto MPLS packets adding and subtracting labeling information as theyenter and leave the network. This ensures compatibility to currentconsumer computer equipment and eliminates the need for end users tomake hardware upgrades to take advantage of the benefits of MPLS.
How it works: MPLSMPLS-equipped networks use MPLS-aware devices known as label edgerouters (LERs), positioned at the network’s edges. These devices aredesigned to inspect IP packets entering the network and add MPLSheaders, as well as removing the headers from packets leaving the MPLSnetwork. Inside the boundaries of the MPLS network, devices known aslabel switch routers (LSRs) look for an MPLS label on each packet as theypasses through them. By looking up and following the instructionscontained in those labels and routing them based on a list of instructionswe obtain the ability to control, monitor and direct packets to and fromnetwork paths of our choice.Diagram A - http://www.nwfusion.com/news/tech/0524tech.htmlBenefits Derivations • Security • Quality of Service (QoS) • Routing Efficiency • Backward compatibility and Cost efficiency • Traffic Engineering
Applications: Where can MPLS thrive?MPLS technology main thrives in large network implementations wheremass amounts of data needs to be transmitted through different physicalnetworks quickly, efficiently and securely. In many cases finding theoptimal path of information is not an easy task. Network administratorsneed the flexibility to dictate where on the network specific packets ofinformation must flow based on technical or business criteria. MPLSallows network administrators the ability to direct critical traffic thru onlysecure networks and non critical data thru general network backboneconnections.The greatest and simplest example of current technology that can use thestrengths of MPLS technology is VPN (Virtual private networking). VPN isthe establishment of a secure connection to a host severs thru insecurenetworks (such as the internet) often known as tunneling.Diagram B - http://www.helpdesk.umd.edu/topics/applications/vpn/3836
Diagram C - http://www.helpdesk.umd.edu/topics/applications/vpn/3836As described in the diagrams above users create a “tunneled” secureconnection to specific host servers passing thru unknown physicalnetworks of the internet domain. Packets may very well travel thrunetworks belonging to malicious hackers. Even though this information isoften encrypted hackers can and will find a way to intercept and decryptedmessages that pass thru their networks.MPLS can mitigate this security threat completely. As networkadministrator you may be required to establish a VPN connection betweentwo locations. The data sent maybe extremely sensitive. With MPLS andVPN technology you will be able to establish a connection and ensure thatthis information only travels via certain trusted networks. Doing so canensure data is transferred safely, securely and efficiently. In the diagramsbelow you will see the concepts of VPN without MPLS and VPN withMPLS illustrated. The main difference is VPN connection established viaMPSL will travel via Virtually Leased Lines (VLL). These lines are providedby large network service providers which ensure the lines are secure andalways are of highest quality.
Diagram D - http://www.netcraftsmen.net/welcher/papers/mplsvpn.htmlDiagram E - http://www.foundrynet.com/solutions/appNotes/PDFs/DM_VLL.pdf
ConclusionSince the exponential like growth of the internet we have noticedcorrelating phenomena that hardware limits are being pushed todangerously instable levels. By devising new and more cleaver ways toroute information to and from different locations we can accommodate theincreasing demands while postponing the changing of standards andexpenditure. We can use what we have now in smarter more efficientways postpone the need to expand or upgrade our current networksystems. MPLS is the solution to our ever expanding internet usage. Byuse of cleaver routing techniques not only can we achieve more efficientusage of our physical networks but we can also have the additionalbenefits of security and flexibility.BibliographyAuthor UnknownIntroduction to MPLS .. Explaining Multi-protocol Label SwitchingRetrieved Feb 28th, 2004 fromhttp://findvpn.com/articles/mpls.php