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About VPLS Provider

A Summary Of The Services Supplied By A VPLS Provider

A Virtual Private LAN Service is an Ethernet Layer 2 multipoint any-to-any communications network for computers. Although only recently introduced, a number of operators are now providing the service commercially. The service supplied by a VPLS provider enables several of a customers LAN's to be connected over a wider area utilizing packet switching technology and allows the multiple networks to function as though they were a single LAN.

As the VPLS links multiple Ethernet domains together, a very much larger domain is created. The entry points for the individual LAN's are via a Provider Edge (PE) router. These PE's communicate with the Customer Edge (CE) devices. The PE's should appear to be an Ethernet bridge to the CE devices so any Ethernet packets received should be treated in a way that will ensure the CE's only need to be simple Ethernet devices.

Because a very large broadcast domain is created, each PE has to keep track of all MAC addresses on the network. This means that potentially, a large amount of the PE's memory is required to store the addresses. This can be avoided by using the router as a CE device which only needs to store the addresses of the LAN it supports.

VPLS offers many advantages to both customers and service providers. The providers benefit from greater revenues gained from supplying new Ethernet services which feature flexible bandwidth and enhanced SLA's. Customers can benefit because all of their sites can be connected to a secure, high speed network that has cost benefits over a traditional service and is simpler to operate.

Basically, any VPLS supplied by a provider consists of a mesh of MPLS (Multi Protocol Label Switching) tunnels which are established between all PE's which participate in the service being provided. These tunnels are set up using the Label Distribution Protocol (LDP). Each VPLS consists of a complete mesh of pseudo wires or inner tunnels which link all participating PE's. The service provider is able to configure any PE with the identities of the other PE's in the VPLS, or he can activate its automatic discovery routine.

The data carried by a VPLS is distributed amongst the other nodes in that particular VPLS and will not be available to any external parties or outside network nodes. The VPLS does not have built-in authentication, confidentiality or integrity so a user within the network may be able to eavesdrop or even inject his own packets into the stream of data. If higher levels of security are required, appropriate encryption packages may be used to secure any data before it passes into the service providers network.

A VPLS provider may be chosen from any one of a number of leading service providers which include but are not limited to AT & T, Global Crossing, Level(3), Masergy, Qwest, SingTel and Verizon.

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