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Optical/IP

Sprint Spurns MPLS for Global VPNs

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON) doesn’t believe in MPLS, no matter what language the engineering manuals are written in.

The carrier is not only shunning the labeling protocol in its American network, but also on its growing international backbone. Sprint has quietly been expanding its IP VPN service offering in Europe and several locations in Asia for more than a year now, and it plans to make several announcements about its progress early next year.

At a time when carrier after carrier is coming out beating the MPLS drum, choosing not to use the protocol is a bold move. MPLS is considered by many to be a unifying technology with the ability to tie together separate data and ATM voice networks on the telecommunications backbone. Instead of following the herd, Sprint has elected to run its IP VPNs over a straight IP network, using a stateless protocol called L2TPv3 (which stands for Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol, version 3).

Sprint’s decision not to join the MPLS party has many industry observers scratching their heads and wondering if the move will cost the carrier customers.

"From what we’ve seen with MPLS, it’s definitely a checklist item." says Erin Dunne, an analyst with the Vertical Systems Group. However, she continues, "Sprint comes in and can usually explain their way out of it."

The checklist could pose more of a problem for Sprint now, as it attempts to gain market share in the IP VPN market outside the states. "MPLS has been adopted more readily in Europe than in the U.S.," says Infonetics Research Inc. analyst Richard Webb. "[Sprint] is going against the grain."

"I think it’s going to be more challenging," admits Barry Tishgart, Sprint’s director of data product management, talking of gaining market share in the European market. "Everything that we’ve found suggests that [the notion that MPLS is the only technology worth having] is stronger in Europe."

He insists, however, these preconceived ideas will not pose a problem to Sprint’s service offering. "We have not had a single door shut on us because of this issue," he says.

Sprint also isn't alone in believing that MPLS may not be all it's cracked up to be, particularly when it's used in very large scale carrier networks. Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE) is leading a study in Germany, called the KING Project, which is investigating alternatives to the protocol (see MPLS: King for a Day?).

If customers absolutely insist, Sprint says it will offer them MPLS -- from the edge of its network. The core of the Sprint network, however, will remain MPLS-free, according to Peter Lothberg, an independent technology consultant working for Sprint. "There is no network that can offer MPLS in the core at Sprint," he says, "but we can offer MPLS over the IP network."

But why not just go all the way and bring it into the core? The main issue is keeping it simple, according to Kathy Walker, senior vice president of network services in Sprint's Global Markets Group. "We think building off of our native IP network is the way to go," she says. "We want to go with simplicity." The idea, she says, is to "extend globally and make it look just like it looks domestically."

And domestically, the company has decided that MPLS just isn’t worth the bother.

Sprint has long professed its skepticism to using the protocol, insisting that rather than simplifying the network, it actually makes it more complex. Using L2TPv3 over a straight IP network, the company says it can offer all of the features available with MPLS, and then some. Among other things, Sprint says its IP VPN service allows for secure remote access, extranet capabilities, and data encryption -- none of which, it claims, are possible with MPLS.

"From the customer side, you can’t tell the difference, except that our performance is better," says Lothberg.

Since it is a new technology, MPLS is constantly changing and does have its disadvantages, says Geoff Bennett, director of Light Reading's Training Division. However, he says, a lot of the problems have begun to be rectified. "It also seems to be the direction the industry is moving in," he observes.

— Eugénie Larson, Reporter, Light Reading
<<   <   Page 31 / 31
netskeptic 12/4/2012 | 9:05:39 PM
re: Sprint Spurns MPLS for Global VPNs > The IP community generally has the following
> set of opinions:
>
> 1) QoS isn't necessary, we just won't ever drop
> traffic. We'll overengineer our networks.

Apparently, this part of IP community never heard about WRED.

Thanks,

Netskeptic
sgan201 12/4/2012 | 9:05:39 PM
re: Sprint Spurns MPLS for Global VPNs Hi Teng100,
Cell tax is not a problem even at high speed..
POS and MPLS over POS has a packet queuing problem that limit trunk utlization to below 40%. That is a 60% tax which is higher than ATM cell tax.
It is just that in OC-48 and above, you do not need ATM cell to control jitter..
teng100 12/4/2012 | 9:05:39 PM
re: Sprint Spurns MPLS for Global VPNs "It is a business. Do what make money and make sense.. IP over ATM is a good choice for link of OC12/OC-3 and below. Do IP over MPLS or POS native for link greater than OC-12."

Even you have to argue the cell tax is not good
for high speed, The new ATM can also do frame interface in high speed, why need IP/MPLS?????
Mark Seery 12/4/2012 | 9:05:38 PM
re: Sprint Spurns MPLS for Global VPNs Security
========

It is possible to build closed IP/MPLS networks. This is mostly an operations/architecture issue more than a technology issue

QoS
===

Common belief is that because MPLS does not define any new PHB, queuing, policing, shaping etc., it does not add anything to QoS. I believe this is an OK understanding for many data services, operating within the context of many business models. Not sure it meets all cases, but most especially transport/wholesale services. But not every one sees data protocols being used in this way, anyway.

IP Community
============

Any one brave enough to define what this is ;-) Some elements of the "IP community" are having trouble embracing some elements of the "carrier" community. This will be an interesting issue over the coming years.

Beefed up ATM
=============

Router vendors have had to support ATM for a number of reasons, for a number of years. New drivers are emerging as some carriers talk about the need for a universal edge (see LR articles on MSEs). Not sure that we can, at this stage, infer that this means MPLS interfaces on routers will have the same capabilities. Will be interesting to see if/how this all plays out.

-mark
AAL5 12/4/2012 | 9:05:38 PM
re: Sprint Spurns MPLS for Global VPNs Teng,

just curious since L2 and L3 VPNs are expected to bring service providers increased revenue in the next few years how do would they be implemented with an ATM only implementation?

How would the implementation support L2 tunneling of FR, Ethernet, PPP, HDLC?

How do they support VPNs without having without having to setup N*N VCs?

How would you expect to support advanced Metro Ethernet services such as VPLS?

Thanks,

AAL5
teng100 12/4/2012 | 9:05:37 PM
re: Sprint Spurns MPLS for Global VPNs "Teng,

just curious since L2 and L3 VPNs are expected to bring service providers increased revenue in the next few years how do would they be implemented with an ATM only implementation?

How would the implementation support L2 tunneling of FR, Ethernet, PPP, HDLC?

How do they support VPNs without having without having to setup N*N VCs?

How would you expect to support advanced Metro Ethernet services such as VPLS?"

Only thing in the above nails down to N*N VCS,
that I have explained before.
QoS traffic you have to use the bandwith and isolated connection for each customer, New ATM
has the capability to scale the total number of the connections up as capacity/bamdwidth grows.
that is more ports more connections in the system,
they scale linearly.

teng100 12/4/2012 | 9:05:37 PM
re: Sprint Spurns MPLS for Global VPNs "Hi Teng100,
Cell tax is not a problem even at high speed..
POS and MPLS over POS has a packet queuing problem that limit trunk utlization to below 40%. That is a 60% tax which is higher than ATM cell tax.
It is just that in OC-48 and above, you do not need ATM cell to control jitter..
"

I do not know what is your conclusion????
<<   <   Page 31 / 31
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