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whitepaper

Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS)


Conformance and
Performance Testing

example test plans included


Contents
Abstract .....................................................................................................................................3
Introduction ..............................................................................................................................3
What is MPLS? .........................................................................................................................4
Historical perspective ........................................................................................................4
MPLS and IP .......................................................................................................................4
Advantages of MPLS .........................................................................................................4
How Does MPLS Work? ...........................................................................................................5
MPLS routing .....................................................................................................................5
Signaling and label distribution ........................................................................................6
Data flow in an MPLS network .........................................................................................7
How Is MPLS Used? ................................................................................................................8
Virtual Private Networks ....................................................................................................8
QoS/CoS .......................................................................................................................... 11
Traffic engineering .......................................................................................................... 11
MPLS Challenges .................................................................................................................. 12
Why Test for MPLS Conformance? ....................................................................................... 13
Why Test for MPLS Scalability and Performance? .............................................................. 14
Scalability ........................................................................................................................ 14
Performance ................................................................................................................... 14
Test Solution Requirements ................................................................................................. 15
Optimized hardware platform ........................................................................................ 15
Routing protocol emulation ........................................................................................... 15
Signaling protocol emulation ......................................................................................... 15
Traffic generation ........................................................................................................... 15
Automation ...................................................................................................................... 15
Ixia’s Approach to MPLS Testing .......................................................................................... 16
MPLS conformance testing............................................................................................ 16
MPLS scalability and performance testing ................................................................... 16
Conclusion ............................................................................................................................. 18
Appendix: MPLS Testing Examples ...................................................................................... 19
1. IxANVL LDP Conformance Test ................................................................................. 19
2. IxScriptMate L2 VPN Partial Mesh Performance Test ............................................. 21
3. IxScriptMate L3 VPN RSVP-TE Egress Performance ................................................ 22
4. IxExplorer LDP Extended Martini Session Scalability Test ...................................... 23
5. IxScriptMate VPLS MAC Address Cache Capacity Test ............................................ 25
6. IxExplorer RSVP-TE Fast Reroute Test ...................................................................... 27
Glossary ................................................................................................................................. 28
Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................... 31

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2 Copyright © 2004, Ixia MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing


Multi-Protocol Label Switching: Conformance and Performance Testing

Abstract Today’s communication networks and networks. The rollout of MPLS brings the
services are migrating to a converged challenges associated with any new
paradigm centered on IP (Internet networking technology — validating proper
Protocol). MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label conformance with industry standards prior
Switching) has emerged as a key enabling to production deployment and verifying
technology for this migration. MPLS acceptable performance. This white paper
technology has proven its value for provides an overview of MPLS, and Ixia’s
delivering new services while at the same approach to testing and validating that
time allowing migration from old to new technology.

Introduction Several forces shape the current handle a variety of services, both legacy
worldwide communications landscape. and new, over a single network. It enables
One is the general economic slowdown higher-value applications and services to
since early 2000, in particular, the pop of be delivered from the service provider’s
the telecommunications industry bubble. network, thereby reducing requirements
Another is the much-ballyhooed on customer-premises equipment.
convergence of digital communications Integration and consolidation speak loudly
networks (voice, video, data) and the in today’s business environment.
emergence of IP as the protocol of choice.
It’s clear that the migration to MPLS is well
Finally, globalization and deregulation
under way. Every major carrier in the US,
have combined to level the playing field
and many internationally, have deployed or
and increase competitive pressures.
announced plans for MPLS backbones. A
The economic slowdown of recent years 2003 study by Infonetics Research shows
and resulting over-capacity in core 62 percent of service providers are now
networks has forced service providers and engaged in some form of data network
carriers to look seriously at their return on convergence over IP or IP/MPLS, with 86
investment from network assets. With pure percent doing so in 2004. Since legacy
bandwidth becoming, in essence, a services, such as Frame Relay and ATM,
commodity, industry focus has shifted to can be carried over the MPLS network, this
supplying the value-add services network convergence is often transparent
customers need. As new technologies are to the end user enterprise. Moving forward,
adopted, the provider’s ability to newer low cost services such as Ethernet
consolidate disparate existing networks is will drive further adoption.
a key to deploying all services, old and
Beyond large carrier networks, MPLS is
new, profitably. The enterprise market has
also finding its way into the larger
shown a similar response to the slowdown
enterprise networks of organizations such
— increasing efficiencies by pragmatically
as retailers, investment companies,
applying the new technologies that make
government agencies and the military,
such improvements possible.
health care organizations, and technology
Consequently, MPLS has great appeal for enterprises.
telecommunications providers. It can

MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing Copyright © 2004, Ixia 3


What is MPLS? Historical perspective consider other factors, such as latency or
traffic congestion.
MPLS is based on the concept of label
switching: an independent and unique MPLS creates a connection-based model
“label” is added to each data packet and overlaid onto the traditionally
this label is used to switch and route the connectionless framework of IP routed
packet through the network. The label is networks. This connection-oriented
simple — essentially a short hand version architecture opens the door to a wealth of
of the packet’s header information — so new possibilities for managing traffic on an
network equipment can be optimized IP network. MPLS builds on IP, combining
around processing the label and the intelligence of routing, which is
forwarding traffic. This concept has been fundamental to the operation of the
around the data communications industry Internet and today’s IP networks, with the
for years. X.25, Frame Relay, and ATM are high performance of switching. Beyond its
examples of label switching technologies. applicability to IP networking, MPLS is
being expanded for more general
Several label switching initiatives emerged
applications in the form of Generalized
in the mid-1990’s to improve the
MPLS (GMPLS), with applications in optical
performance of software-based IP routers
and Time-Division Multiplexing (TDM)
and provide Quality of Service (QoS).
networks.
Among these were IP Switching (Ipsilon/
Nokia), Tag Switching (Cisco), and ARIS Advantages of MPLS
(IBM). In early 1997, an Internet • MPLS enables a single converged
Engineering Task Force (IETF) Working network to support both new and
Group was chartered to standardize a label legacy services, creating an efficient
switching technology. MPLS emerged from migration path to an IP-based
this effort as another labeling scheme, but infrastructure. MPLS operates over
one with this distinct advantage: it uses both legacy (DS3, SONET) and new
the same routing and host addressing infrastructure (10/100/1000/10G
schemes as IP — the protocol of choice in Ethernet) and networks (IP, ATM,
today’s networks. Today MPLS is defined Frame Relay, Ethernet, and TDM).
by a set of IETF Request for Comments
• MPLS enables traffic engineering.
(RFCs) and draft specifications (under
Explicit traffic routing and engineering
development).
help squeeze more data into available
MPLS and IP bandwidth.
It is important to understand the • MPLS supports the delivery of services
differences in the way MPLS and IP routing with Quality of Service (QoS)
forward data across a network. Traditional guarantees. Packets can be marked
IP packet forwarding uses the IP for high quality, enabling providers to
destination address in the packet’s header maintain a specified low end-to-end
to make an independent forwarding latency for voice and video.
decision at each router in the network. • MPLS reduces router processing
These hop-by-hop decisions are based on requirements, since routers simply
network layer routing protocols, such as forward packets based on fixed labels.
Open Shortest Path First (OPSF) or Border • MPLS provides the appropriate level of
Gateway Protocol (BGP). These routing security to make IP as secure as
protocols are designed to find the shortest Frame Relay in the WAN, while
path through the network, and do not reducing the need for encryption on
public IP networks.

4 Copyright © 2004, Ixia MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing


• MPLS VPNs scale better than configuration and management
customer-based VPNs since they are requirements for the customer.
provider-network-based, reducing the

How Does MPLS MPLS is a technology used for optimizing establish the network topology. MPLS is
Work? traffic forwarding through a network. then overlaid on top of this topology. MPLS
Though MPLS can be applied in many predetermines the path data takes across
different network environments, this a network and encodes that information
discussion will focus primarily on MPLS in into a label that the network’s routers
IP packet networks — by far the most understand. This is the connection-
common application of MPLS today. oriented approach previously discussed.
Since route planning occurs ahead of time
MPLS assigns labels to packets for
and at the edge of the network (where the
transport across a network. The labels are
customer and service provider network
contained in an MPLS header inserted into
meet), MPLS-labeled data requires less
the data packet (Figure 1).
router horsepower to traverse the core of
These short, fixed-length labels carry the the service provider's network.
information that tells each switching node
MPLS routing
(router) how to process and forward the
packets, from source to destination. They MPLS networks establish Label-Switched
have significance only on a local node-to- Paths (LSPs) for data crossing the network.
node connection. As each node forwards An LSP is defined by a sequence of labels
the packet, it swaps the current label for assigned to nodes on the packet’s path
the appropriate label to route the packet to from source to destination. LSPs direct
the next node. This mechanism enables packets in one of two ways: hop-by-hop
very-high-speed switching of the packets routing or explicit routing.
through the core MPLS network.
Hop-by-hop routing. In hop-by-hop routing,
MPLS combines the best of both Layer 3 IP each MPLS router independently selects
routing and Layer 2 switching. In fact, it is the next hop for a given Forwarding
sometimes called a “Layer 2½” protocol. Equivalency Class (FEC). A FEC describes a
While routers require network-level group of packets of the same type; all
intelligence to determine where to send packets assigned to a FEC receive the
traffic, switches only send data to the next same routing treatment. FECs can be
hop, and so are inherently simpler, faster, based on an IP address route or the
and less costly. MPLS relies on traditional service requirements for a packet, such as
IP routing protocols to advertise and low latency.

Figure 1. MPLS header format on an MPLS packet.

MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing Copyright © 2004, Ixia 5


In the case of hop-by-hop routing, MPLS The most commonly used MPLS signaling
uses the network topology information protocol is LDP. LDP defines a set of
distributed by traditional Interior Gateway procedures used by MPLS routers to
Protocols (IGPs) — routing protocols such exchange label and stream mapping
as OSPF or IS-IS. This process is similar to information. It is used to establish LSPs,
traditional routing in IP networks, and the mapping routing information directly to
LSPs follow the routes the IGPs dictate. Layer 2 switched paths. It is also
commonly used to signal at the edge of the
Explicit routing. In explicit routing, the entire
MPLS network — the critical point where
list of nodes traversed by the LSP is
non-MPLS traffic enters. Such signaling is
specified in advance. The path specified
required when establishing MPLS VPNs,
could be optimal or not, but is based on
for example.
the overall view of the network topology
and, potentially, on additional constraints. RSVP-TE is also used for label distribution,
This is called Constraint-Based Routing. most commonly in the core of networks
Along the path, resources may be reserved that require traffic engineering and QoS. A
to ensure QoS. This permits traffic set of extensions to the original RSVP
engineering to be deployed in the network protocol, RSVP-TE provides additional
to optimize use of bandwidth. functionality beyond label distribution,
such as explicit LSP routing, dynamic
Label Information Base. As the network is
rerouting around network failures,
established and signaled, each MPLS
preemption of LSPs, and loop detection.
router builds a Label Information Base
RSVP-TE can distribute traffic engineering
(LIB)—a table that specifies how to forward
parameters such as bandwidth
a packet. This table associates each label
reservations and QoS requirements.
with its corresponding FEC and the
outbound port to forward the packet to. Multi-protocol extensions have been
This LIB is typically established in addition defined for BGP, enabling the protocol to
to the routing table and Forwarding also be used to distribute MPLS labels.
Information Base (FIB) that traditional MPLS labels are piggybacked onto the
routers maintain. same BGP messages used to distribute the
associated routes.
Signaling and label distribution
MPLS allows multiple labels (called a label
Connections are signaled and labels are
stack) to be carried on a packet. Label
distributed among nodes in an MPLS
stacking enables MPLS nodes to
network using one of several signaling
differentiate between types of data flows,
protocols, including Label Distribution
and to set up and distribute LSPs
Protocol (LDP) and Resource reSerVation
accordingly. A common use of label
Protocol with Tunneling Extensions (RSVP-
stacking is for establishing tunnels through
TE). Alternatively, label assignment can be
MPLS networks for VPN applications.
piggybacked onto existing IP routing
protocols such as BGP.

6 Copyright © 2004, Ixia MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing


Figure 2. MPLS network.
Data flow in an MPLS network establish LSPs through the MPLS
network to remote PE routers.
Figure 2 shows a typical MPLS network
and its associated elements. The central 2. Non-MPLS traffic (Frame Relay, ATM,
cloud represents the MPLS network itself. Ethernet, etc.) is sent from a
All data traffic within this cloud is MPLS- customer network, through its CE
labeled. All traffic between the cloud and router, to the ingress PE router
the customer networks is not MPLS- operating at the edge of the
labeled (IP for example). The customer- provider’s MPLS network.
owned Customer Edge (CE) routers 3. The PE router performs a lookup on
interface with the Provider Edge (PE) information in the packet to
routers (also called Label Edge Routers, or associate it with a FEC, then adds
LERs) owned by the service provider. At the the appropriate MPLS label(s) to the
ingress (incoming) side of the MPLS packet.
network, PE routers add MPLS labels to 4. The packet proceeds along its LSP,
packets. At the egress (outgoing) side of with each intermediary P router
the MPLS network, the PE routers remove swapping labels as specified by the
the labels. Within the MPLS cloud, P information in its LIB to direct the
(Provider) routers (also called Label packet to the next hop.
Switching Routers, or LSRs), switch traffic
5. At the egress PE, the last MPLS label
hop-by-hop based on the MPLS labels.
is removed and the packet is
To demonstrate an MPLS network in forwarded by traditional routing
operation, we will follow the flow of data mechanisms.
through the network in Figure 2: 6. The packet proceeds to the
1. Before traffic is forwarded on the destination CE and into the
MPLS network, the PE routers first customer’s network.

MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing Copyright © 2004, Ixia 7


How Is MPLS Used? One of the primary original goals of MPLS, scalability compared with other VPN
boosting the performance of software- technologies. MPLS VPNs keep different
based IP routers, has been superseded as customers’ traffic separated by uniquely
advances in silicon technology have identifying each VPN flow and setting up
enabled line-rate routing performance circuit-like connections. This mechanism
implemented in router hardware. In the provides traffic separation and is
meantime, additional benefits of MPLS transparent to end users within the VPN
have been realized, notably VPN services group. MPLS VPNs provide security
and traffic engineering. inherently, essentially making IP as secure
as Frame Relay or ATM, and reducing the
Virtual Private Networks
need for encryption. Miercom, an
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a private independent network consultancy and
network service delivered over a public testing laboratory, tested MPLS VPN
(shared) network. VPNs benefit end security on a network of various routers,
customers by allowing remote locations to and concluded (2001): “Our test results
be securely connected over a public have demonstrated that MPLS-based VPN
network, without the expense of buying or networks offer the same level of security
leasing dedicated network lines. MPLS as Frame Relay or ATM.”
enables VPNs by providing a circuit-like,
L3 VPNs. MPLS VPNs fall into two broad
connection-oriented framework, allowing
classes — those that operate at Layer 3
carriers to deploy VPNs over the
and those that operate at Layer 2. Layer 3
traditionally connectionless IP network
VPNs were first to be investigated and
infrastructure.
standardized in RFCs. Layer 3 VPNs based
MPLS VPNs vs. IPSec VPNs. The term VPN can on RFC 2547bis have seen the most
be confusing, as it is used to describe a widespread deployment to date.
number of technologies. VPNs can be
RFC 2547bis-based Layer 3 VPNs use
organized into two broad categories:
extensions to BGP, specifically Multi-
• Customer-based: the VPN is Protocol internal BGP (MP-iBGP), to
configured exclusively on customer- distribute VPN routing information across
located equipment and uses tunneling the provider backbone. Standard MPLS
protocols across the public network, mechanisms (as previously discussed) are
most commonly IPSec. used to forward the VPN traffic across the
• Network-based: the VPN is configured backbone. In an L3 VPN, the CE and PE
on service provider equipment and routers are IP routing peers. The CE router
managed by the provider. MPLS VPNs provides the PE router with the routing
are an example of network-based VPNs. information for the customer’s private
IPSec adds secure encryption capabilities network behind it. The PE router stores this
to IP. It is typically managed by the end private routing information in a Virtual
customer, outside of a service provider’s Routing and Forwarding (VRF) table; each
network, where there is a higher degree of VRF is essentially a private IP network. The
exposure to breaches of data privacy. PE router maintains a separate VRF table
IPSec is especially useful for securing for each VPN, thereby providing
remote location VPN connections back to appropriate isolation and security. VPN
the corporate network. users have access only to sites or hosts
within the same VPN. In addition to the
MPLS VPNs are maintained on the service VRF tables, the PE router also stores the
provider’s equipment, which can provide normal routing information it needs to
significant cost savings and increased send traffic over the public Internet.

8 Copyright © 2004, Ixia MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing


Figure 3. Layer 3 VPN MPLS network.
L3 VPNs use a two-level MPLS label stack tables that are larger than normal with the
(see Figure 3). The inner label carries VPN- addition of the VPN routes.
specific information from PE to PE. The
L2 VPNs. Layer 2 MPLS VPNs have recently
outer label carries the hop-by-hop MPLS
generated much interest from carriers and
forwarding information. The P routers in
vendors and are beginning to be deployed
the MPLS network only read and swap the
(2003). Layer 2 MPLS VPN standards are
outer label as the packet passes through
still in the development phase, but the
the network. They do not read or act upon
industry has centralized on the IETF
the inner VPN label — that information is
Martini drafts, named after primary author
tunneled across the network.
Luca Martini. These drafts define a
The L3 VPN approach has several method for setting up L2 VPN tunnels
advantages. The customer IP address across an MPLS network that can handle
space is managed by the carrier, all types of Layer 2 traffic, including
significantly simplifying the customer IT Ethernet, Frame Relay, ATM, TDM, and
role — as new customer VPN sites are PPP/HDLC.
easily connected and managed by the
There are two kinds of Layer 2 VPNs that
provider. L3 VPNs also have the advantage
use the Martini methodology:
of supporting auto-discovery by leveraging
the dynamic routing capabilities of BGP to • Point-to-point: similar to ATM and
distribute VPN routes. Frame Relay using fixed, point-to-point
connections (LSPs) across the
The Layer 3 approach has disadvantages network.
as well. Layer 3 VPNs support only IP or
• Multi-point: supporting meshed and
“IP-encapsulated” customer traffic. Scaling
hierarchical topologies.
also can be a significant issue with PE
routers required to support BGP routing

MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing Copyright © 2004, Ixia 9


Figure 4. Layer 2 VPN MPLS network.
VPLS (Virtual Private LAN Services) is a The inner Virtual Circuit (VC) label
multi-point L2 VPN model that has identifies the VLAN, VPN, or connection at
generated significant interest of late. VPLS the end point. In addition, there is an
uses Ethernet as the access technology optional Control Word following the VC
between the customer and the provider label that carries information about the
network and enables a private corporate enclosed Layer 2 packet.
Ethernet network to be extended over a
Layer 2 MPLS VPNs have the distinct
provider-managed MPLS infrastructure.
advantage of being able to transport any
Multiple corporate customer sites can be
enterprise protocol — whatever is being
connected together with all locations
carried is transparent to the MPLS
appearing to be on the same Layer 3
network. They can also run over nearly any
network, all without the complexity of
transport medium, including ATM, Frame
configuring Layer 3 routers.
Relay, Packet over SONET, and Ethernet,
In Layer 2 VPNs, the PE and CE routers enabling the integration of connectionless
need not be routing peers as required in IP networks with connection-oriented
Layer 3 VPNs. Instead, only a Layer 2 networks. End customer expertise is
connection needs to exist between PE and minimal since no routing configuration is
CE, with the PE routers simply switching required.
incoming traffic into tunnels configured to
On the downside, L2 VPNs may not scale
one or more other PE routers. A Layer 2
as well as L3 VPNs. A full mesh of LSPs
MPLS VPN determines reachability through
must be set up between all L2 VPN sites, a
the data plane by using address learning,
requirement that does not scale well with
in contrast with Layer 3 VPNs, which
large numbers of sites. In addition, they
determine reachability through the control
cannot take advantage of automatic route
plane by exchanging BGP routes.
discovery available with L3 VPNs, and so
L2 VPNs use label stacking similar to Layer are better suited to situations with a
3 VPNs. The outer tunnel label determines smaller number of VPN sites and static
the hop-by-hop path through the network. routes.

10 Copyright © 2004, Ixia MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing


QoS/CoS While IntServ offers traffic bandwidth
guarantees, it has proved to be not very
One of the key shortcomings of IP-based
scalable or practical to operate across
networks, compared with Frame Relay and
large networks. The DiffServ architecture,
ATM networks, has been their inability to
on the other hand, is a scalable
provide service guarantees for traffic. For
alternative, but does not provide
example, real-time traffic such as voice or
guarantees. Recent work in the IETF has
video needs high quality service (low
focused on combining DiffServ and MPLS
latency, low jitter, etc.) to successfully
traffic engineering elements to provide
traverse a network. Similarly, mission-
QoS guarantees in MPLS packet networks.
critical data, such as e-commerce
The DiffServ information in IP packet
transactions, must have priority over
headers is mapped into the label
normal web browser traffic.
information of the MPLS packets. MPLS
MPLS’s connection-oriented nature routers act upon the prioritization
provides the framework necessary to give information in the packets to forward the
quality guarantees to IP traffic. While QoS data appropriately. Some of the
and Class of Service (CoS) are not mechanisms used include traffic shaping,
fundamental features of MPLS, they can queuing, and packet classification.
be applied in MPLS networks where traffic
QoS is typically implemented at the edge of
engineering is used. This enables
the MPLS cloud, where non-labeled traffic
providers to establish Service Level
from the customer network enters the
Agreements (SLAs) with customers to
carrier network. At this entry point for
guarantee service aspects such as
example, delay-sensitive real-time traffic,
network bandwidth, delay, and jitter. Value-
such as IP voice or video conferencing
added services can be delivered in
traffic, can be prioritized for delivery over
addition to basic data transport, increasing
bulk data transmissions.
revenue propositions and ultimately
enabling the move to converged networks. Traffic engineering
IntServ and DiffServ. Several mechanisms Another key shortcoming of IP, especially in
have developed over time to establish public networks, is its inability to optimize
QoS/CoS within a network. In the IntServ network resource utilization. Using
(Integrated Services) model, RSVP was standard IP routing, all traffic between two
developed to signal QoS requirements points is sent over the shortest path even
across a network, allowing devices to though multiple paths may exist. During
negotiate and establish guaranteed traffic periods of high traffic volume, this can
parameters such as bandwidth and result in traffic congestion on certain
latency end-to-end. It uses hard allocation routes while alternative routes are
of resources, guaranteeing services down underused. This is known as the hyper-
to a per-flow basis. The DiffServ aggregation problem (Figure 5).
(Differentiated Services) model is less
Rather than adding bandwidth to handle
stringent, providing for CoS delivery by
traffic volume increases, MPLS traffic
classifying traffic into relative priority levels
engineering uses existing bandwidth more
for aggregate treatment, but without
efficiently by allowing packets to be routed
signaling or end-to-end guarantees of
along explicit routes and with specific
service. DiffServ redefines the Type of
bandwidth guarantees.
Service (TOS) field in the IP packet header
to provide this classification.

MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing Copyright © 2004, Ixia 11


Figure 5. Hyper-aggregation in conventional IP networks.
This is known as Constraint-Based Routing such as link bandwidth, link utilization,
and is the key to MPLS traffic engineering. delay, priority, preemption, etc. — to allow
Constraint-Based Routing manages traffic the network to utilize paths that meet
paths within an MPLS network, allowing service requirements, resource availability,
traffic to be steered to desired paths. load balancing, and failure recovery
objectives. RSVP-TE is widely used for
MPLS traffic engineering also enables
MPLS signaling in networks that require
resiliency and reliability to be built into
traffic engineering.
carrier networks, increasing the availability
and value of the network to their MPLS traffic engineering is typically
customers. Using MPLS traffic deployed in the core of the MPLS network,
engineering, LSP connections can be while QoS is used at the edge. QoS at the
optimized and preempted. When outages edge ensures that high priority packets get
occur, traffic can be actively rerouted preferential treatment, while traffic
around failed links. An example of this is engineering avoids network congestion
RSVP-TE Fast Reroute, which provides for and appropriately utilizes available
sub-50ms switchovers between primary bandwidth resources. Together, QoS and
and back up LSPs or LSP bundles. traffic engineering enable organizations to
move away from multiple, specialized
Traffic engineering is deployed in MPLS
networks for voice, video, and data to a
networks via traffic engineering extensions
single converged IP/MPLS network,
to IGPs, such as OSPF and IS-IS. OSPF-TE
dramatically reducing overhead and cost.
and IS-IS-TE carry additional information —

MPLS Challenges MPLS has made significant progress over continually evolving state and its impact on
the last few years and is well into network performance and scalability.
mainstream deployment in networks
MPLS is not a standalone technology — it is
around the world. But key challenges to
overlaid on Layer 2 technologies such as
attaining more widespread acceptance
Ethernet or ATM, and must operate in
remain. MPLS encompasses a wide range
conjunction with other control plane
of functionality and applications, therefore
protocols, such as IP routing. The
its implementation has an associated high
complexity of MPLS deployments is
level of complexity. Vendors who develop
increased because of this interaction. In
MPLS technology, as well as organizations
some cases, four or more protocols may be
looking at deploying MPLS in a network
involved in a given network scenario,
today, must also factor in MPLS’s
necessitating careful coordination and

12 Copyright © 2004, Ixia MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing


validation of the end-to-end system. have vastly improved the raw performance
Integration of legacy services and of today’s routers, the complexity of MPLS
deployment of new services, such as VPNs, in real network applications presents
requires tunneling, which in turn increases performance and scalability issues. The
the setup requirements for a given circuit. challenge is typically not in the MPLS core
network, where data is simply being label-
Though under development for a number
switched, but at the network edge where
of years, MPLS continues to evolve rapidly.
MPLS must integrate with non-MPLS
The primary goals of the technology have
networks, and where services are initiated.
shifted over time as technology has
As networks converge, traffic loads
progressed. Today, a number of extensions
increase and networks must be able to
to the MPLS protocols, as well as new
deal with the overhead of handling real-
functionality, are under development. New
time and prioritized traffic. The meshed
developments often obsolete older ones.
connections required for VPN deployments
This dynamic nature presents a moving
can quickly challenge equipment
target to those developing and deploying
scalability limitations, as well as
MPLS. Vendors must decide whether to
provisioning and management
implement a new feature with an eye on
requirements. Large service provider
the industry’s current direction. Service
networks have the ultimate scalability
providers gauge the viability of new
challenge and must consider the
developments by asking whether they
limitations of their equipment as they look
solve a given problem better. On certain
to maximize return on investment.
issues, the industry has split into multiple
camps, further complicating the situation The challenges presented by MPLS
as organizations trade off the long term ultimately necessitate thorough testing
risk of obsolescence with the shorter term and validation of MPLS systems during
benefits of implementing a certain development and prior to deployment.
technology. Interoperability of MPLS MPLS is by no means a plug-and-play
equipment in heterogeneous networks proposition. Performing appropriate due
remains an issue and will continue to be diligence is the only way to ensure success
so for several years to come. when dealing with a broad-scope and
rapidly evolving technology such as MPLS.
Though advances in silicon technology

Why Test for MPLS MPLS standards and implementations are remain competitive in their market and to
Conformance? dynamic. At the time of this writing, there meet the demands of their customers.
were over 100 IETF drafts associated with Development test and quality assurance
MPLS, and over 20 RFCs. In such a groups therefore need an efficient way to
dynamic environment, standards verify the correctness of their
compliance and the corresponding implementations. Formalized conformance
expectation of equipment interoperability testing against standards supplies this
present significant challenges. confidence. Beyond ensuring product
interoperability and quality, conformance
Equipment vendors find themselves at the
testing can also accelerate product
leading edge of these challenges as they
development by detecting bugs or
continually update their feature sets to the
correcting design issues early in the
latest standards and options, while at the
development cycle, thereby reducing the
same time improving performance and
product’s time to market and hence
scalability. They must do this, both to
increasing profitability.

MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing Copyright © 2004, Ixia 13


For both service providers and enterprise To achieve adequate test coverage for
organizations, multi-vendor environments compliance with a standard, hundreds of
are the reality today. Such a reality is conformance test cases are typically
untenable without equipment necessary to cover a given protocol, and
interoperability driven by standards-based these tests must be appropriately updated
implementations. Networks are also as necessary. Since test cycles are often
dynamic, so when it comes time to very frequent (daily in some cases), these
upgrade, conformance and regression tests must be automated as well. To
testing are crucial to ensure that new address these challenges, most vendors
software releases do not break existing and service providers rely on conformance
services. testing products that are maintained and
supported by a dedicated third-party.

Why Test for MPLS After verifying the standards compliance RSVP-TE must be verified to determine
Scalability and and interoperability of an MPLS system, the number of protocol sessions that
Performance? the next challenge is to determine the can be sustained.
ability of an implementation to perform in
Together, these numbers will determine
a real network. Given the complexity of the
the quantity of routers that must be
protocols involved and the multi-layered
deployed for a given number of customers.
nature of MPLS, scalability and
performance are often genuine concerns. Performance
Equipment vendors typically test and One of the original proposed benefits of
publish the scalability and performance MPLS was the performance boost
capabilities of their products. End users associated with switching on a label as
will often validate the numbers while opposed to routing on an IP address. While
additionally testing specific network this is of less concern today, the forwarding
scenarios unique to their deployment. performance of PE routers at the edge of
Scalability the MPLS network still involves IP (or
other) lookups and assignments. Vendors
Scalability is typically viewed as the biggest
and service providers alike must test and
challenge in service providers’ MPLS
characterize MPLS devices across multiple
networks today. They must understand the
interface types (Ethernet, POS, ATM) for
dynamics of growth in their networks as
traditional data plane performance
new customers are added, as well as the
metrics:
ultimate limits of their networks. Several
metrics are key in determining scalability: • Data throughput

• Router capacity: The capacity of the • Packet loss


MPLS routers to handle large numbers • Latency
of LSPs, VPN instances (VRFs or VCs), • Jitter
and routes is important to determine
Given the advances in hardware-based
when sizing the overall network.
routing in recent years, the expectations
• LSP setup rate: The rate at which LSPs for device performance have grown so that
can be set up is an important factor in line rate traffic support is typically a given.
overall network responsiveness. But the MPLS routers of today are being
• Signaling protocol scalability: The asked to perform many functions, with
limits of an MPLS router running operational requirements at the data
signaling protocols such as LDP or (traffic), control (routing), security, and

14 Copyright © 2004, Ixia MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing


management planes. With requirements Together, scalability and performance
for MPLS routers to run multiple protocols metrics can be competitive differentiators
simultaneously, to interoperate among for equipment vendors. For service
multiple technologies, and to apply QoS providers and network managers, they are
and other policies to traffic, the reality is a key selection criteria between vendors.
that full performance is not a given. Characterizing these elements is critical,
Performance must be viewed in different since they directly impact the service
usage scenarios, depending on how the quality that can be delivered to the end
network is designed and being operated. customer.

Test Solution MPLS test tools must be able to perform a extensions to these protocols, for example
Requirements wide variety of functions to test and OSPF-TE and IS-IS-TE, must be supported
validate MPLS devices and systems to allow this aspect of MPLS to be tested.
adequately. For conformance testing, the
Signaling protocol emulation
test solution must be able to fully exercise
the control plane of the device or system MPLS signaling protocols must be
under test. For performance and scalability supported to establish MPLS tunnels and
testing, the test solution must be able to signal L2 and L3 VPNs. Examples of these
emulate MPLS routers at the control plane protocols include LDP, RSVP-TE, and MP-
level and scale up for large capacity BGP. The test tool must be able to run
testing. And it must be able to drive traffic these protocols simultaneously with the
through the system at the data plane level routing protocols on the same network
to fully stress the device being tested. interface.

Optimized hardware platform Traffic generation

While simple router emulations can be run Once the MPLS network has been
on PCs or workstations, an optimized test established and all connections signaled,
system must be employed to provide the test tool must be able to inject data
complete testing capabilities and high traffic into the network topology, at speeds
levels of scalability. For example, to up to line rate, and it must be able to
emulate a large network, a network receive traffic as well. This means sending
interface on a test tool must support traffic over all of the LSPs configured on
hundreds or even thousands of IP the test interfaces. On the receiving side,
interfaces and MAC addresses— the test tool must be able to gather
requirements that standard off-the-shelf statistics and capture the traffic for
hardware cannot support. Purpose-built analysis. An increasingly common
test hardware is required to provide the requirement for test tools is to emulate
flexibility and scalability needed to real enterprise applications over the
adequately test MPLS equipment. network. This allows for the
characterization of the network in terms
Routing protocol emulation
the end user really cares about, namely,
The test solution must be able to emulate how their applications will perform.
the full range of routing protocols used in
Automation
today’s networks, including OSPF, IS-IS,
RIP, and BGP. These routing protocols are Since MPLS testing involves complex setup
used to advertise the underlying network and analysis requirements, tests must be
topologies over which the MPLS network is repeatable, which makes automation very
established. In addition, traffic engineering important. Scripting languages are

MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing Copyright © 2004, Ixia 15


normally used to provide automation in environments to perform repeatable
MPLS router testing. These tools enable regression tests necessary to ensure
quality assurance and manufacturing product functionality and quality.

Ixia’s Approach to MPLS conformance testing IxANVL can run on standalone


MPLS Testing Ixia has addressed the challenges of
workstations or on Ixia test hardware. Its
operation can be completely automated
protocol conformance testing by
using a scripting interface. IxANVL source
developing IxANVL (Ixia Automated
code is also available to users for
Network Validation Library), the industry
customization, allowing a great degree of
standard conformance test suite. While
testing flexibility.
supporting over 30 protocols overall,
IxANVL contains over 800 test cases to MPLS scalability and performance testing
validate routers for MPLS label
The general methodology employed by Ixia
encapsulation, and LDP and RSVP-TE
for testing the scalability and performance
protocol conformance. IxANVL provides
of MPLS routers involves first surrounding
positive as well as negative test cases
the device or system under test (DUT/SUT)
against the RFCs that specify these
with Ixia hardware test interfaces. The Ixia
standards. Negative tests help validate
system then emulates everything else
device response to “killer packets.”
needed to test the device, including other
IxANVL performs its tests as a dialog: it MPLS routers, IP route injection, LSP
sends packets to the router being tested, signaling, and traffic transmission. In this
receives the packets sent in response, and way, large and complex topologies can be
then analyzes the response to determine simulated to test the DUT/SUT in realistic
the next action to take. This allows IxANVL system environments, with a minimum of
to test complicated situations or reactions hardware requirements. As an example, in
in a much more intelligent and flexible way Figure 6, four Ixia test interfaces are
than can be done by simple packet connected to the DUT with numerous
generation and capture devices. routers being emulated per interface.

Ixia port Ixia port

IX IA IX IA IX I A
IX IA

IX IA IX I A IX IA IX IA IX I A

IX IA
IX IA IX IA IX I A

DUT

IX IA

IX IA IX I A IX IA

IX IA Ixia port Ixia port IXIA


= emulated router

Figure 6. Ixia router simulation.

16 Copyright © 2004, Ixia MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing


Ixia has developed two primary generated over the established
applications for MPLS performance connections. Alternatively, Ixia’s IxChariot
testing, IxExplorer and IxScriptMate, each product can be used to transmit emulated
with a distinct testing focus. enterprise application traffic over the
MPLS device or network being tested to
IxExplorer. IxExplorer provides a high level
measure end-to-end application response
of flexibility and functionality in protocol
times.
emulation, traffic generation, and analysis.
IxExplorer is the primary controlling IxScriptMate. IxScriptMate provides a
application for Ixia’s purpose-built framework for running automated test
hardware test platform, allowing detailed scenarios. Numerous test suites have
configuration of protocols and analysis of been developed within the IxScriptMate
test results. environment for testing the session and
circuit scalability, traffic throughput
Within IxExplorer, a comprehensive set of
performance, latency, and failover recovery
IP routing and MPLS signaling protocols is
capabilities of MPLS routers. IxScriptMate
supported, including OSPF, IS-IS, RIP, BGP,
simplifies the configuration process by
LDP, and RSVP-TE, as well as multicast
defining a configuration for the test and
protocols. IxExplorer controls the protocol’s
displaying the relevant parameters for user
operation on Ixia’s test hardware
input. Tests then run automatically, and
architecture, which supports a CPU
the results are presented to the user. This
running Linux on each test port. This
is especially useful for L2 and L3 VPNs,
dedicated emulation environment allows
where the test configuration can involve
hundreds of MPLS routers to be emulated
multiple protocols and complex traffic
on each network interface. Up to hundreds
generation requirements.
of thousands of LSPs can be signaled from
each interface. Line rate traffic can be

MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing Copyright © 2004, Ixia 17


Conclusion In the post-bubble economy, the most and its impact on network performance
important objectives for service providers and scalability.
and carriers are to:
To manage the complexity of MPLS, a wide
• reduce operating costs range of protocols, services, applications,
• preserve existing services and hardware must be tested and
• introduce new services efficiently validated. For network managers and
vendors of MPLS-related products and
MPLS technology has proven its value for services, a comprehensive and well
delivering new services while at the same designed conformance and performance
time allowing migration from old to new testing solution is crucial to the success of
networks. By converging new and legacy MPLS technology.
network services over an MPLS network,
providers and carriers can introduce Ixia provides that solution with
efficiencies that promise great savings in • IxANVL, the industry standard
operating costs. As a result, MPLS is well conformance test suite
into mainstream deployment in networks • IxExplorer and IxChariot, providing
around the world as a standard backbone flexibility and functionality in protocol
technology for converged networks. emulation, traffic generation, and
However, MPLS has proven to be an analysis
extremely complex technology, • IxScriptMate, providing the efficiency
encompassing a wide range of of automated testing
functionality and applications. Vendors
Together, these tools enable the providers
who develop MPLS technology, as well as
of next-generation MPLS products and
organizations looking to deploy MPLS,
services to ensure the reliability,
must consider the complexity of the
performance, scalability, and profitability
technology, its continually evolving state,
of their offerings.

18 Copyright © 2004, Ixia MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing


Appendix: MPLS This appendix contains several examples 1. Configure each IxANVL network
Testing Examples of brief MPLS test plans, with specific interface with the appropriate
examples showing how Ixia’s solutions network parameters, including those
address the challenges of MPLS testing. of the DUT such as IP address, MAC
address, gateway, etc.
1. IxANVL LDP Conformance Test
2. Specify configuration of the DUT,
Objective: To characterize the MPLS typically via command scripts such
router’s compliance with LDP RFC as Expect scripts.
standards.
3. Select the set of IxANVL LDP test
Test setup: IxANVL Linux workstation cases to run during the test session
connected directly, or via Ixia test (see Figure 7).
hardware, to DUT with two network 4. Run IxANVL in batch mode with the
connections — one for request packets and command scripts, reconfiguring the
one for response packets. DUT as required between test cases
Methodology: IxANVL runs a number of test to match the IxANVL test setup.
cases against the DUT based on direct Results: Number of tests passed/failed,
interpretation of the LDP RFCs 3036 and including reasons for failed cases (see
3215. Figure 8).

Figure 7. IxANVL LDP test cases

MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing Copyright © 2004, Ixia 19


missing label requests

missing label mapping message

Figure 8. IxANVL LDP test results.

20 Copyright © 2004, Ixia MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing


2. IxScriptMate L2 VPN Partial Mesh Methodology:
Performance Test 1. Each Ixia port simulating a PE router
Objective: To determine the maximum rate establishes an OSPF session, LDP
an LSR configured as an L2 VPN PE router session, and Extended LDP (Martini)
can “push” MPLS labels onto incoming session with the DUT.
Layer 2 packets and forward the resulting 2. If more than one Ixia port is being
MPLS traffic, or “pop” labels from used to simulate PE routers, the VC
incoming MPLS packets and forward the IDs can be distributed among them
resulting Layer 2 traffic with no loss. in either round robin or consecutive
fashion.
Test setup: Minimum of two Ixia ports
connected to the DUT — one to simulate a 3. The CE and/or PE ports transmit
PE router and another to simulate a CE traffic at the specified rate. If frame
router. Additional ports can be configured loss occurs, the transmission rate is
to emulate multiple PEs/CEs (see Figure alternately reduced/increased using
9). The IxScriptMate application, running a binary search algorithm to
on a workstation, controls the test running determine the maximum rate at
on Ixia hardware. which the DUT can forward traffic
without loss.
Parameters: Number of PEs/CEs, number of
VCs per PE, VC distribution style Results: Frame loss, latency, data errors,
(consecutive or round robin), frame size sequence errors.
distribution, traffic transmission rate.

Martini
CE encapsulated PE
IXIA L2 traffic traffic I X IA

i
PF c tin
OS asi ar
B M
P ed
LD end
t
Ex
P
PE LD
OSPF
LDP Basic
CE PE
IXIA LDP Extended Martini IXIA
DUT
O
LD LD SP
P P F
Ex Ba
te
n d s ic
ed
M
ar
tin
i
CE PE
IXIA IXIA

Figure 9. Test setup

MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing Copyright © 2004, Ixia 21


3. IxScriptMate L3 VPN RSVP-TE Egress address of the simulated PE router.
Performance Traffic engineering parameters are
advertised using OSPF-TE.
Objective: To determine the maximum rate
an LER configured as an L3 VPN PE router 2. Bidirectional LSPs are established
can “pop” MPLS labels from incoming using RSVP-TE.
packets and forward the resulting IP traffic 3. A Multi-Protocol internal BGP (MP-
with no loss. iBGP) session is established with the
DUT.
Test setup: Two Ixia ports connected to the
DUT — one to simulate a PE and P router 4. The port simulating the PE router
and another to simulate a CE router (see transmits MPLS traffic at the
Figure 10). specified rate. If frame loss occurs,
the transmission rate is alternately
Parameters: OSPF parameters, BGP reduced/increased using a binary
parameters, number of routes per CE, frame search algorithm to determine the
size distribution, traffic transmission rate. maximum rate at which the DUT can
Methodology: forward traffic without loss.
1. The port simulating the PE/P router Results: Transmit rate, latency, data errors,
establishes an OSPF session with the sequence errors.
DUT and advertises the loopback

MPLS traffic

CE IP traffic PE P PE

OSPF OSPF
IX I A IX I A IX I A
DUT RSVP-TE
MP-iBGP session over
provider backbone

Figure 10. IxScriptMate L3 VPN RSVP-TE egress performance.

22 Copyright © 2004, Ixia MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing


4. IxExplorer LDP Extended Martini Session the DUT with one or more Layer 2 VC
Scalability Test FECs advertised per session.
Objective: To determine the maximum 4. Status on the port is monitored to
number of LDP Extended Martini sessions determine if all configured sessions
the DUT can sustain at one time. are successfully established. Figure
14 shows the MPLS Martini labels
Test setup: One Ixia port connected to the learned by IxExplorer from the DUT —
DUT (see Figure 11). one for each session.
Methodology: 5. If all sessions are successfully
1. An OSPF session is established with established, the number of extended
the DUT. sessions configured is increased and
2. An LDP basic session is established the test rerun. If not all are
with the DUT, advertising the Ixia port established, the number of sessions
loopback address as a FEC. is lowered and the test repeated.

3. A number of LDP Extended Martini Results: LDP Extended Martini session


sessions (based on test capacity.
expectations) are established with

I X IA

I X IA

I X IA

I X IA

emulated
PEs IX I A DUT
P router

I X IA
physical connections
emulated connections
I X IA OSPF sessions
LDP sessions
LDP Extended Martini sessions

Figure 11. IxExplorer LDP Extended Martini session scalability test setup

MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing Copyright © 2004, Ixia 23


400 Martini sessions

label information

Figure 12. Test results (learned labels)

24 Copyright © 2004, Ixia MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing


5. IxScriptMate VPLS MAC Address Cache the specified DUT MAC address table
Capacity Test size, are sent to the Learning port.
These frames contain varying source
Objective: To determine the maximum
MAC addresses and a fixed
capacity of a router’s Layer 2 MAC address
destination MAC address
cache.
corresponding to the address
Test setup: A minimum of three Ixia test connected to the Test port.
ports connected to the DUT — a Test port, a 3. Validation frames are sent to the Test
Monitoring port, and a Learning port. port back to the addresses learned
Parameters: Number of PEs per port, on the Learning port.
number of VPLS instances per CE, number 4. The Monitoring port listens for
of hosts per VLAN, DUT MAC address table flooded or mis-forwarded frames
size, DUT MAC address aging time. (See from the DUT.
Figure 13.) 5. A binary search algorithm is used to
Methodology: determine the maximum number of
1. OSPF and LDP are run based on addresses that can be learned
user-configured parameters to set up without flooding or dropping frames.
the network topology and signal the Results: Maximum MAC address capacity
VPLS instances. total and per VPLS instance. (See Figure
2. Learning frames, equal in number to 14.)

Figure 13. IxScriptMate run setup

MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing Copyright © 2004, Ixia 25


MAC cache capacity = 20000

Figure 14. IxScriptMate test results

26 Copyright © 2004, Ixia MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing


6. IxExplorer RSVP-TE Fast Reroute Test detour.
Objective: To measure the LSP switchover 3. Unicast traffic is sent from the
time of a router running RSVP-TE Fast ingress port over the primary LSP.
Reroute between a primary LSP and a 4. A switchover to the detour LSP is
detour LSP upon link failure. initiated by bringing down the link to
the DUT on the primary LSP.
Test setup: Three Ixia test ports connected
to the DUT — one acting as the ingress and 5. Traffic is captured on both the egress
two as egress (primary and detour). See ports. The switchover time is
Figure 15. calculated by comparing the
timestamp of the last packet
Methodology: received on the primary port with the
1. Two bidirectional LSPs are signaled timestamp of the first packet
using RSVP-TE through the DUT from received on the detour port.
the Ixia ingress and egress ports.
Results: Fast Reroute switchover time of
2. RSVP-TE Fast Reroute objects are the DUT.
signaled to establish one LSP as a
primary and the second LSP as a

IX I A

primary LSP egress LER 1

IXIA DUT
detour LSP
ingress LER

IX I A
egress LER 2

Figure 15. IxScriptMate run setup

MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing Copyright © 2004, Ixia 27


Glossary
Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) An exterior gateway protocol defined in RFC
1267 and RFC 1268. BGP is the principal
protocol used along the Internet backbone
and within larger organizations.

Constraint-Based Routing Routing that uses intelligent path computation


and explicit route specification to determine
routes. This differs from typical non-
Constraint-Based Routing, in which routes are
calculated based only on shortest path.
Constraint-Based Routing enables traffic
engineering in MPLS networks.

Class of Service (CoS) Class of Service (CoS) is a method for


managing network traffic by grouping similar
types of traffic (for example, e-mail, streaming
video, voice, large document file transfer)
together and treating each type as a class
with its own level of service priority.

Customer Edge Router (CE) A router at the edge of a customer network,


the CE interfaces to a corresponding Provider
Edge (PE) router at the edge of the service
provider’s network.

Diffserv An architecture for providing different types or


(Differentiated Services) levels of service for network traffic.

Exterior Gateway Protocol (EGP) A protocol that distributes routing information


to the routers that connect networks.

Fast Reroute A mechanism used in MPLS networks to


provide redundant data paths for recovery
from node or link failures. The RSVP-TE
protocol is used to signal Fast Reroute
configuration.

Forward Equivalency Class (FEC) A classification of a group of packets — all


packets assigned to a FEC receive the same
routing treatment. FECs can be based on IP
address prefixes or service requirements for a
type of packet (QoS, VPN, Traffic Engineering,
etc.).

Forwarding Information Base (FIB) A table containing the information necessary


to forward IP data in a router. At a minimum,
the FIB contains the outbound interface
identifier and next hop information for each
reachable IP destination network.

28 Copyright © 2004, Ixia MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing


Internet Gateway Protocol (IGP) Protocol that distributes routing information to
the routers within a network. The term
“gateway” is historical; “router” is currently the
preferred term. Example IGPs are OSPF, IS-IS
and RIP.

IS-IS An OSI/IP routing protocol, IS-IS stands for


Intermediate System to Intermediate System
(i.e., router to router). MPLS traffic engineering
parameters can be distributed with IS-IS using
extensions to the protocol (IS-IS-TE).

L2 VPN An emulation of a Layer 2 switching


environment, supplied by a service provider
for its customers, via a core network. In MPLS
networks, L2 VPNs use LDP to signal
connections for transporting Layer 2 frames
over MPLS.

L3 VPN An emulation of Layer 3 services/distribution


of routes, supplied by a service provider for its
customers, via a core network. L3 VPNs use
BGP extensions to signal provider-provisioned
VPNs per IETF Draft RFC 2547bis.

Label Distribution Protocol (LDP) A protocol, defined in RFC 3036, used to


distribute MPLS label and stream mapping
information.

Label Edge Router (LER) A router at the edge of an MPLS network. At


the ingress side, an LER maps IP packets to
LSPs, adds the appropriate MPLS header, and
forwards the packet to the next hop. At the
egress side, an LER strips the MPLS label(s)
and forwards the packet using traditional
routing mechanisms.

Label Information Base (LIB) A table that specifies how to forward a packet
in an MPLS router. This table associates each
label with its corresponding FEC.

Label Switched Path (LSP) In MPLS, a path through a network from an


ingress to an egress router that has been
established through the distribution of labels
that define hop-by-hop forwarding treatment.

Label Switching Router (LSR) A router, operating in the core of an MPLS


network, that switches traffic based on labels.

MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing Copyright © 2004, Ixia 29


Martini Drafts A set of IETF draft specifications (named for
primary author Luca Martini) that define the
mechanisms for creating Layer 2 MPLS VPNs.
Such VPNs support Layer 2 traffic such as
Frame Relay, ATM, and Ethernet tunnels over
an MPLS network.

Open Shortest Path First (OSPF) A link-state routing protocol used by IP routers
located within a single Autonomous System
(AS) to determine routing paths. MPLS traffic
engineering parameters can be distributed
with OSPF using extensions to the protocol
(OSPF-TE).

P Router (Provider Router) A router that operates in the core of an service


provider network.

Provider Edge Router (PE) A router that operates at the edge of a service
provider’s network, interfacing with the
corresponding Customer Edge (CE) router(s) at
the edge of one or more customer networks.

Quality of Service (QoS) A measure of performance for a transmission


system that reflects its transmission quality
and service availability. QoS mechanisms
provide the ability to manage network traffic’s
bandwidth, delay, and congestion.

Resource Reservation Protocol — Extensions to the RSVP protocol related to


Tunneling Extensions (RSVP-TE) traffic engineering. RSVP-TE implements an
assignment of labels from ingress to egress
routers, with consideration for bandwidth and
other QoS requirements.

Routing Information Protocol (RIP) An Internet routing protocol that uses hop
count as a routing metric. RIP is the most
common IGP used in the Internet.

Traffic Engineering Techniques and processes that optimize the


routing of network traffic. Traffic engineering
mechanisms enable network administrators
to manage network traffic’s bandwidth, delay,
and congestion.

Virtual Circuit (VC) A circuit or path between points in a network


that appears to be a discrete, physical path
but is actually part of a managed pool of
resources from which specific circuits are
allocated as needed to meet traffic
requirements.

30 Copyright © 2004, Ixia MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing


Virtual Private LAN Service (VPLS) A class of VPN that supports the connection of
multiple sites in a single bridged domain over
a managed IP/MPLS network. The goal of
VPLS is to provide a protocol-transparent, any-
to-any, full-mesh service across a WAN.

Virtual Routing and Forwarding (VRF) A VPN routing/forwarding instance. A VRF


Table includes the routing information that defines a
customer VPN site that is attached to a PE
router.

Acknowledgements Authors: Bruce Miller, Elliott Stewart

MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing Copyright © 2004, Ixia 31


32 Copyright © 2004, Ixia MPLS: Conformance and Performance Testing