Sunday, April 13, 2008

MPLS-Inter-Carrier Interconnect (ICI) Spec Released

The IP/MPLS Forum has approved a new MPLS Inter-Carrier Interconnect (MPLS-ICI) specification that defines how carriers can link their networks on a global basis for the delivery of MPLS services. The specification includes methods for the establishment of Label Switched Paths (LSPs); signaling and routing protocols; resiliency; traffic management and QoS; Operations, Administration and Maintenance (OAM); as well as packet forwarding and security requirements.

Specifically, the MPLS-ICI Technical Specification addresses four common IP/MPLS services: inter-carrier IP VPN services, labeled IPv4 routes, pseudowires or PWE3 (Layer 1 and Layer 2 emulated services over an IP/MPLS network) and traffic engineered trunks. Each of these has unique requirements. The Technical Specification covers issues common to all these uses as well as addresses attributes that are specific to each of the services.

The IP/MPLS Forum said that as enterprise customers have increasingly sought end-end service delivery of VoIP, VPNs and other Layer 2 and Layer 3 services across multiple service provider networks, the carriers only historical means to deliver this has been via bilateral agreements which are limited to basic IP interconnect or the transport of native Layer 2 services over ATM or Frame Relay NNI connections. The MPLS-ICI changes all of that by supporting a rich array of service interconnections using MPLS which can carry a variety of Layer 1, 2 and 3 services.

"The MPLS-ICI provides a standards-based definition for carrier interconnect that allows services to be transported over MPLS from one provider edge to the other provider edge in a secure, consistent and transparent manner," said Nabil Bitar, Editor of the MPLS-ICI specification and Director, Packet Network Architecture at Verizon Communications. "In addition, because MPLS is a multi-service transport technology, an MPLS-ICI eliminates the need to have multiple interconnect technologies at the carrier connection points, enabling carriers to simplify network, reduce OPEX and CAPEX, and improve ROI. These are the same factors that initially motivated carriers to deploy MPLS for their converged packet backbone networks."

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