MPLS WAN Explorer
2009 Packet Design, Inc.
Edge (CE) router to a PE router and enabling routing, typically using the Border GatewayProtocol (BGP).
MPLS VPNs are an IP Routing Service—the Implications
While Service Providers often position MPLS VPNs as simply an “IP-enabled” version of theFrame Relay WANs that enterprises have been familiar with for years, the reality is thatMPLS VPNs are very different from Frame Relay and have a much bigger networkmanagement impact. While Frame Relay is a Layer 2 service over which enterprisesmanage and have visibility into WAN routing, MPLS VPNs are an IP routing service. In otherwords, the Service Provider not only takes responsibility for providing a Layer 2 “link” andgetting traffic across it, but also for delivering the enterprises’ internal IP routing updatesproperly and privately across its shared VPN network. Because this routing aspect of theMPLS VPN service is delivered via a standards-based MPLS VPN service architecture thatblocks enterprises from seeing into the Service Provider network, IT completely loses end-to-end visibility across the enterprise network.Technically speaking, the lack of end-to-end network visibility means that IT engineers areblind to a key function of IP networks—routing reachability. The role of routing protocols inIP networks is to ensure that IP subnets (represented by routed prefixes) attached torouters across the network can communicate with (or reach) each other. With a MPLS VPNobscuring backbone routing, IT engineers can no longer tell if the network is operating correctly at an IP routing level. This poses a fundamental monitoring challenge, sinceSNMP management systems can show all devices and interfaces being “up”, whileapplication traffic may be dropped or delayed due to routing-layer issues that are occurring within the Service Provider network “cloud”, or at the complex BGP peering interfacebetween PE and CE routers. Without any detailed information on end-to-end routing reachability, troubleshooting the network aspect of an application problem also becomeseven more of a challenge than normal, often getting stuck in finger-pointing between IT andthe Service Provider. Finally, it becomes even easier to introduce errors into the networkduring routine network changes since engineers don’t have any detailed insight into theactual state of network operations.The bottom-line impact of the lack of visibility into routing reachability is that key operationsand engineering processes such as monitoring, troubleshooting and planning the networkto ensure application delivery become much more time-consuming, and much lessaccurate. Ultimately, these inefficiencies cause operations costs to rise in the face of ever-increasing demands for networked applications needed to drive business automation.
MPLS WAN Explorer—Visibility through the MPLS VPN Cloud
Packet Design offers a unique solution called MPLS WAN Explorer, which is designedto help enterprises regain end-to-end network routing and traffic visibility across MPLSVPNs. MPLS WAN Explorer utilizes Packet Design’s industry-leading route analyticstechnology that is deployed in hundreds of large enterprise, government and ServiceProvider networks worldwide. Route analytics solutions listen passively to routing