MPLS Fast Reroute Gets a Boost
That is the mindset the current crop of MPLS technology vendors are facing. Currently, several technical drafts that aim to solve this problem are being debated in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). One is MPLS Fast Reroute, a mechanism that routes traffic around network outages using a predetermined path and provides telecommunications networks the same 50 millisecond protection as Sonet. One of the hits against this approach, however, is that it doesn’t scale well in large networks.
Yesterday, here at MPLScon, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) added momentum to the movement, announcing a new product called Tunnel Builder Pro that enhances MPLS Fast Reroute and makes it much easier for large carriers to implement the technology.
In some ways, this is a simple product enhancement to existing Cisco capabilities. But it could also be viewed as a significant development in the MPLS Fast Reroute technology, particularly for carriers with large networks, because it provides them with a tool that will calculate alternative network paths.
“The success of MPLS in the ILEC market hinges on whether or not vendors can really make Fast Reroute work as effectively as Sonet,” says Irwin Lazar, practice manager with the Burton Group and conference director for MPLScon.
Cisco, Avici Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: AVCI; Frankfurt: BVC7), and Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) support this specification in their products. But Cisco, which actually wrote the first version of Fast Reroute, is the only one that has developed a separate software application, one that runs separately on a Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) Solaris server. It automatically calculates the best routes offline and uploads that information to Cisco routers throughout the network, so that when an outage occurs, the routers know which alternative to use.
A small software management company called Cariden Technologies has developed a similar tool that can be used with third-party routers. In a multivendor environment, Cariden will likely work just as well as Cisco’s solution, says the Burton Group’s Lazar.
Even Cisco competitors say this advance is important. “Anything that can be done to improve Fast Reroute is a good thing,” says Gary Leonard, director of solutions marketing for Riverstone Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: RSTN) and an MPLS Forum representative. “The more developments in this area, the better.”
— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading