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    Introduction to MPLS

    MPLS provides a mechanism for engineering network traffic patterns that is independent of routing tables. MPLS assigns short labels to network packets that describe how to forward them through the network. MPLS is independent of any routing protocol and can be used for unicast packets.

    In the traditional Level 3 forwarding paradigm, as a packet travels from one router to the next, an independent forwarding decision is made at each hop. The IP network layer header is analyzed, and the next hop is chosen based on this analysis and on the information in the routing table. In an MPLS environment, the analysis of the packet header is performed just once, when a packet enters the MPLS cloud. The packet is then assigned to a stream, which is identified by a label, which is a short (20-bit), fixed-length value at the front of the packet. Labels are used as lookup indexes for the label forwarding table. For each label, this table stores forwarding information. You can associate additional information with a label—such as class-of-service (CoS) values—that can be used to prioritize packet forwarding.

    Modified: 2017-08-31