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Ethernet VPLS Virtual Private LAN
International cloud networking technology interconnects LANs at diverse locations

By: John Shepler

We’re all familiar with the term cloud network. Various technologies are used to provide the infrastructure of the cloud and the services you can get through the cloud. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could have your own cloud that included all your business locations?

Virtual Private LAN Service
In a way, you can. While it’s generally not practical to create a completely proprietary cloud network, you can get very close with VPLS or Virtual Private LAN Service.

The “virtual” in VPLS means that you are sharing a privately operated multipoint network that you don’t own. The most popular network for this purpose is MPLS or Multi-Protocol Label Switching. A characteristic of MPLS networks is that they can transport any type of traffic from point to point, point to multi-point or in a fully meshed network. That includes Ethernet traffic of most any bandwidth.

Ethernet and MPLS Combined
VPLS is an Ethernet based meshed network that is implemented using an MPLS cloud with Ethernet access connections. Pseudo-wires are used to create any-to-any Ethernet connectivity through the MPLS network. Using layer 2 pseudo-wires allows maintenance of a single bridged domain. This is what gives the perception that all of your sites are interconnected on your own Ethernet cloud. It is truly a virtual private LAN.

VPLS makes sense if you have multiple sites in a single metropolitan area but want the experience of having everyone working in a single large, indeed very large, office building. With VPLS the PC or printer in the next office is exactly as close on the network as the PC or printer ten miles away. But VPLS isn’t limited to metropolitan area networks. You can network many cities in the state or many cities in many states. The extent of your network is limited only by the service footprint of your service provider.

Reach is National and International
Actually, provider footprint is not even a limiting factor anymore, thanks to Ethernet Exchanges like Telx that interconnect participating carriers. It is even possible to include international locations in your VPLS cloud. AboveNet is a competitive carrier that offers international VPLS for the US and major cities in Europe.

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