hi - Just catching up since we rolled out Frame Relay several years ago. With something like Sprint's MPLS offering, what is required in the router to connect and support a MPLS network. I can see how the firmware must be upgraded to understand the new tags used by MPLS. But why does it seem that MPLS and VPN are mentioned together, and yet we didn't need a VPN when using our Frame network.
Any other considerations for migrating from a Frame network up to a MPLS network ?
Also - I didn't see a MPLS newsgroup, but there was an old Frame group.
The MPLS tags dont normally get to your routers - they are within the carrier cloud, and are there to let the telco use a common backbone for lots of different customers.
A lot of MPLS services support more modern types of QoS etc - but there is no real reason you need up to the minute code versions. MPLS has been around for several years now, so obviously worked with IOS releases current when it
1st came out.
I dont know what Sprint do specifically, but it is common practice for some carriers to use Frame Relay encap between PE and CE router - ie on the link from customer site to the carrier cloud.
So - in theory Sprint could swap you from F/R to MPLS, and all you need is some changes to the config on the routers.
We use it at work because you can use multiple PVCs to carry different VRFs to give multiple logical VPNs on 1 access link.
A specific customer F/Relay set of PVCs and ports sort of make up a layer 2 cloud. They didnt call it a VPN as that wasnt the "in vogue" term at the time :).
One advantage of MPLS is alternate access link support - Ethernet at
10/100/1000 Mbps for example.
QoS is pretty much standard (although usually with some extra costs), and other things such as multicast, IP voice breakout in the cloud, Internet feeds and hosting integration all come up frequently.
Multiple VPNs can be useful e.g. to segregate a live and test network, or internal net and an extranet, but without needing separate access lines.
I suggest you start writing down requirements without worrying about MPLS capabilities and then check how closely the carrier services map to that.
mpls is within the carrier cloud is correct; one advantage of this type of typology is the any to any connectivity, vs a hub and spoke type of typology. this allows better use of a network to roll out services such as voip.