Overlay networking has been around for a year or so now and the ideas behind it are well established. It was about 3/4 weeks ago while researching VTEP functionality in Dell and Arista switches that I realised I could build manually configured tunnels with VXLAN and get the same results as an EoMPLS x-connect with almost zero effort. More importantly, I don’t have to pay for expensive hardware that has MPLS functions or pay again for software licenses to upgrade with MPLS features.
Consider this diagram showing the process of MPLS encapsulation/tunnelling in a simple way
Now, consider how VXLAN works in a similar diagram.
The process is identical. And VXLAN has a number of features that are specifically designed to improve function on the data centre. Features like header entropy for effective load balancing over LAG & MLAG links.
Both MPLS and VXLAN require specific hardware support to operate at line rate but VXLAN only requires hardware support for encapsulation at the edge of the network and thus network cores do not necessarily need replacing. MPLS demands end to end support.
The EtherealMind View
I’ve designed a few data centres with MPLS to create security zones on a shared physical infrastructure. None of this projects went very well because the complexity and cost of implementing MPLS was too high. Reliability was poor and it was difficult to get enough staff with MPLS skills.
Don’t get me wrong, MPLS has it’s place in certain types of networks but it no longer has a place the data centre. SDN and Overlay networking will easily replace MPLS and provide far more functions, service and visibility.