Quo Vadis: MPLS?
The MPLS 2007 Conference, took place in Washington D.C. from October 28-31, and was advertised as:
“œThe year 2007 marks the 10th anniversary of MPLS International Conference and over the past 10 years, the conference has helped industry grow and have been the venue of the launch of new technologies that are driving the Internet towards next generation”
Approximately 500 participants internationally attended the conference mainly comprising the service provider and vendor community. Bruce Davie, Cisco, and Yakov Rekhter, Juniper highlighted the service modularity and extensibility that MPLS possesses in spite of approximately 10+ years of existence. Davie went on to discuss challenges to MPLS such as”different packet header” and forwarding paradigm; network management; asserted to, that challenging MPLS with no control plane and great network management seems like it begs the question of standards-based networking. Davie concluded that MPLS and IP remain entrenched because they enable valuable services such as L3VPN for MPLS; and that the rise of Ethernet is unlikely to change the fact that that the world depends on IP.Yakov Rekhter highlighted differences between MPLS and Provider Backbone Transport or PBT and concluded with the following assertion:”œPBT is a new technology that promises to offer some of the same benefits that MPLS has been providing for years.It is unclear if and when PBT will reach the level of maturity and sophistication comparable to what MPLS has today with respect to the features that are needed for packet-based transport point-to-point, point-to-multipoint, and multipoint-to-point connectivity, protection, traffic engineering, QoS (including deterministic quality of service and OAM.PBT in the transport layer still requires MPLS in the service layer and as a service layer technology, PBT is limited to just Ethernet.”By the way, the arguments in these transport discussions are not skewed to Ethernet vs MPLS — in fact both technologies have co-existed for years. If a purported technology offers somewhat identical benefits as one that is rather mature, does this premise constitute a leapfrog and/or, disruptive paradigm?The service providers who presented at the conference like Telecom Italia, Verizon, FT-Orange, Sprint, NTT, KDDI acknowledged the adoption of MPLS as pivotal to their service architectures; and certainly did not articulate a desire to move to so called”PBT.” Ok, you may ask, well”what did one expect at an MPLS Conference?” The vendor panel discussion was rather circular with 9 or so vendors each stating their obvious positions — yawn, yawn -there were no fireworks here!The more interesting opportunity in the industry is to move at the service and application level. Looking at the bigger picture in terms of trends and impact to architecture, massive quantities of data will be generated on small scales (RFIDs, sensors or so called pervasive computing etc); further, there is an explosion of new creatorsor consumers of content, so called”prosumers” like perhaps some of us. Oh, yes, the promise of Web 2.0 is supposed to drive greater consumer choice, participation and control -social networking indeed. You may wonder why the 2007 Time Magazine”Person of the Year” award was YOU!Uhmm, MPLS vs PBT vs whatever -is there something wrong with this picture? With all of these dynamics, have we thought about the impact to the overall network? The Internet? Ah, stay tuned!