Security Guard

Enterprises have long relied on MPLS Technology to provide a highly flexible private networking technology to connect enterprises to remote locations, customers, and vendors.  It is the go to technology for instances when dissimilar network protocols or speeds are involved, and when a provider managed solution is desired.  Virtual Private LAN Service (VPLS) has been getting more attention recently because of the growing popularity of Ethernet based services.

MPLS and VPLS services have some of the same characteristics, and they differ in some very significant ways, giving each technology advantages and disadvantages when compared to the other.  The table below gives a quick overview of where the technologies offer similar features, and where they differ:

Features

MPLS

VPLS

Virtual Private Networking between sites

Yes

Yes
Class of Service (CoS) to maintain quality of service (QoS)

Yes

Yes
Any-to-any site communication

 Yes

Yes
Support for IP-based services

 Yes

Yes
Network Access Type

Any type

Ethernet only

Number of Sites Supported

Highly Scalable

Limited Number

IP Routing Control

Provider Managed

Self-Managed

Both MPLS and VPLS offer Private Networking, Class of Service options, Any-to-any site communications, and support for IP-based services.  The differences between the two services include types of access methods, number of sites, and IP routing control. These three differences are where the focus is placed when evaluating the suitability of either technology for a particular situation.

VPLS allows enterprises to maintain control over routing and does not share layer 3 routing tables with the service provider. This is a big benefit for businesses concerned about security.  In addition, VPLS is protocol independent, supporting IP, IPX and other legacy protocols.

Because of the limitations in the number of sites supported by VPLS and the availability of Ethernet coverage, so you see many enterprises deploying a combination of MPLS  and VPLS services, instead of a pure VPLS network. For example, MPLS can be used at branch locations, while VPLS is used between data centers.

VPLS is gaining in popularity because of the growth in Ethernet services, but MPLS is still a highly relevant technology for enterprises looking for a virtual private networking solution. Selecting the right technology solution really depends on the needs of the enterprise, and may very well include both MPLS and VPLS technology.