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MPLS

Cisco Pitches MPLS Alternative

Amid a flurry of Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) switching announcements arriving Wednesday, there's this: The company is pitching an alternative to Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS).

That's amusing because back in the 1990s, MPLS started life as tag switching, a Cisco-proprietary protocol that eventually morphed into a standard. Now, Cisco is saying MPLS is too complex for some enterprises, so it's introducing a new, proprietary protocol. "It's kind of going back to where we started," says Craig Huitema, director of marketing for Cisco Data Center Solutions.

Cisco doesn't want to replace MPLS. The new protocol, Easy Virtual Network (EVN), is just for certain cases where an enterprise wants to create separate logical networks that all sit on the same physical network -- a request that's common in the age of virtualization.

It can be done with MPLS, but many enterprise staffs don't know MPLS, Huitema says. Cisco claims EVN is simpler because it avoids technologies such as the BGP routing protocol, which is what MPLS uses to promulgate routing information throughout the network.

EVN is being offered on the Catalyst 4500 and 6500 and the ASR 1000.

Cisco's announcement also includes some noteworthy high-speed line cards:
  • 40 Gbit/s for the Catalyst 6500, fulfilling a promise made last July. The box will be able to support 44 ports of 40 Gbit/s.
  • Two new modules for the Nexus 7000: one with six 40Gbit/s ports and another with two 100Gbit/s ports.


Why this matters
Cisco is still pushing back against intensified competition in the switch market from Arista Networks Inc. , Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), Dell Technologies (Nasdaq: DELL), HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR). As Cisco found out in 2010, it can't ignore its fundamental markets, such as switching, for the sake of chasing more glamorous "adjacencies."

The data center is a hot market now, so every company has to keep pushing to get more out of its switches. One common front is to boast about new software that makes the network simpler to run, which is where EVN fits in.

For more
On Cisco, switches and the Cisco Live conference taking place in London this week:

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

mhomann 12/5/2012 | 5:43:50 PM
re: Cisco Pitches MPLS Alternative

Reading the Cisco whitepaper on EVN, it looks to me like old wine in new skins. What is it more than some simplified configuration commands for VLAN separated Multi-VRF? Ok, it's always good to simplify the configuration for the user.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:43:48 PM
re: Cisco Pitches MPLS Alternative

> Reading the Cisco whitepaper on EVN, it looks to me like old wine in new skins. What is it more than some simplified configuration commands for VLAN separated Multi-VRF? Ok, it's always good to simplify the configuration for the user.


Your assessment might be correct. Cisco described EVN to me as using familiar campus-network skills to configure logical networks.


photon2 12/5/2012 | 5:43:48 PM
re: Cisco Pitches MPLS Alternative

There is a standard, E-VPN which has been written about by ACG


http://bit.ly/xKOSWq

joferrei 12/5/2012 | 5:43:47 PM
re: Cisco Pitches MPLS Alternative

Tag switching, without the need for BGP so long as all end-nodes are in the same physical network (ie reachable to each others w/o going through public Internet)?


Isn't this what L2 MPLS-TP is supposed to do: Simple forwarding tag based L2 switching?


MPLS-TP is an open standard with systems available from number of competing vendors at competitive pricing, where as "EVN" is de-facto Cisco technology. Which way should a cost-sensitive enterprise go for?

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:43:32 PM
re: Cisco Pitches MPLS Alternative

Here's an evaluation that Cisco's EVN is not only not-new, but doesn't really count as a "technology":


http://blog.ioshints.info/2012...


That's from Ivan Pepelnjak's blog at IPspace.net, and he did dig into the technology quite a bit.

terminaljunkie 12/5/2012 | 5:43:30 PM
re: Cisco Pitches MPLS Alternative

EVN is not proprietary as it works with other vendor kit at remote end of connection using standard VRF lite commands.

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