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MPLS TutorialWatch the Five Best MPLS Tutorials

This round-up of five MPLS tutorial videos showcases different understandings of MPLS. From a cartoonish look at how networks handle data packets, to an in-depth university lecture, these videos provide a pathway to understanding MPLS, or Multi-Protocol Label Switching.

MPLS tutorial for business

Network expert Michael J. Cavanaugh gives a general overview of Multi Protocol Label Switching for businesses. This is a solid explanation that doesn’t get overly technical or full of acronyms about why businesses should care about MPLS, including the benefits of MPLS versus other connectivity options such as Virtual Private Networks or point-to-point connections.

Cavanaugh explains how MPLS enables connectivity between remote offices, and how a virtual MPLS network allows a company to extend quality of service features on its local area network into the service providers’ network by prioritizing different packets.

He also discusses the ability to extend Quality of Service features beyond an individual business’ network, and the option of doing one-to-many connections via MPLS. This simple MPLS tutorial includes high-level basics about the benefits of MPLS and how it works.

MLPS is a bar code on every packet

What is MPLS? Windstream’s answer: a bar code on every packet. This brief video includes some nice metaphors for how to think about what MPLS does within the network.

From the video: “All MPLS is, is a barcode on every packet. And the routers and switches just read the barcode in the network, and then forward that packet based on that information in the barcode. That’s it.”

MPLS tutorial from TechWiseTV

A fast-paced overview of MPLS from TechWiseTV. Jimmy Ray Purser gives a Networking 101 view on the “very basic basics of what it really does.”

He goes on to say, “MPLS — Multi-Protocol Label Switching — is a really cool technology that allows us to have all the advantages, all the routing advantages that layer 3 provides, but the high speed transport and the simplicity that layer 2 provides on the WAN side. It gives us a ton of really cool configuration options, and a lot of the high speed advantages we saw in high speed WANs now are directly due to what MPLS provides.”

He explains the information that can be contained in an MPLS label and how a switch can simply read the label rather than look inside an entire IP packet, and determine the Label-Switched Path on which to send the packet based on its label. Labels are locally significant to the routers.

“Not only can you carry your QOS information and forward some really sensitive traffic across your WAN, but it allows you to actually start stacking these labels up,” Purser says. He later adds, “Now, basically, I can create tunnels inside of a network.”

A tutorial on TCP/IP

If you want to understand MPLS, try understanding TCP/IP first.

This cartoon tutorial gives a basic (but not particularly simple) summary of how IP networks work to carry data traffic, and how the TCP and IP protocols work. MPLS is a different type of routing protocol that is used to direct packets within a network, and the advantage of using quickly-read labels rather than multiple information look-ups is clear after viewing this video. This video clip is acronym-heavy and relies on viewers having a basic understanding of networking already. Includes explanations of RIP (Routing Information Protocol) and Open Shortest Path First routing protocols for IP.

In-depth MPLS tutorial

One video in a series from the Centre for Distance Engineering Education Programme from IIT Bombay. Professor Karandikar of the school’s department of electrical engineering gives a very thorough 54-minute explanation of the reasons MPLS came to be used in networks and key features of MPLS.