So it's no surprise that over 200 attendees at last month's Supercomm tradeshow in Atlanta said the MPLS/Frame Relay Alliance should devote its energies to finding ways to interwork -- making Frame Relay, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM), and Ethernet services work together via MPLS.
The survey yielded the following list of items for the group to consider (1 being the most common response, 5 the least):
1. Multi-class traffic engineering
2. Multi-provider, multi-area L2 VPNs
3. Inter-area, inter-provider BGP/MPLS IP VPNs
4. Fast restoration
Interestingly, all respondents listed multi-class traffic engineering as top priority, but other priorities were more controversial.
For instance, service providers responding to the survey, comprising 38 percent of the 245 respondants, said VPLS (virtual private LAN service) should come third in line, after multi-class traffic engineering and multi-provider, multi-area L2 VPNs. But VPLS wound up in last place because of responses by systems vendors (31 percent of all respondents), consultants (13 percent), components vendors (3 percent), and others.
VPLS is slowly gathering momentum among service providers and their suppliers, even though the survey indicates it may be simmering on the back burner (see VPLS: The Future of VPNs? and Virtual Private LAN Service).
The survey also produced a list of applications and deployment goals for the Alliance to consider. Again, these aren't specs, but general ways carriers can go about putting standards into practice in their networks:
1. ATM/Frame Relay/Ethernet any-to-any interworking
2. FR-MPLS interworking
3. MPLS-PNNI interworking
4. MPLS user-network interface specification
5. Voice over MPLS
6. Proxy admission control for MPLS networks
Regardless, it's clear that members of the Alliance, formed earlier this year by the union of the MPLS Forum and Frame Relay Alliance (see Forums Forge Alliance), see interworking as key to their future (see Interworking).
Members of the Alliance will use the input in creating its ongoing agenda, starting with the quarterly meeting set for July 9-10 in Vienna, Va. The group plans to discuss ATM/Frame Relay/Ethernet interworking via MPLS, along with testing of multi-class traffic engineering, SLAs for MPLS networks, and Layers 2 and 3 VPN interworking.
To view the results online, click here.— Mary Jander, Senior Editor, Light Reading