[lacnog] FYI: Estandarizacion de MPLS
fernando en gont.com.ar
Mar Mar 1 03:22:42 BRT 2011
ITU decision Q&A
What is MPLS?
Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) is a networking standard, created
by the IETF, that assigns labels to data packets, which can then operate
across multiple different protocols. Forwarding or switching decisions
for MPLS packets from one network node to another are made on the basis
of the label (i.e., without requiring equipment to examine the packet’s
content) facilitating easy to create end-to-end circuits. MPLS is
commonly used to create Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), and it can be
used to deliver different levels of quality of service (QoS) for
different types of data. It is also gives service providers flexibility
in routing; for example, to avoid broken links or failures.
What is the IETF’s role with respect to MPLS?
The IETF defined the MPLS specification, as part of the overall Internet
technology specifications, which include the Internet Protocol version 4
(IPv4) and Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).
What is OAM?
OAM stands for Operations, Administration, and Maintenance; it is
essentially the set of tools that assist an operator in managing and
troubleshooting a network. This includes everything from ping and
traceroute to SNMP, NetConf, and a variety of other management tools.
What has happened recently?
At a meeting that ran late into the evening on Friday 25th February 2011
in Geneva, one of the ITU’s technology focused study groups, the ITU-T
Study Group 15, determined a Recommendation that defines operations,
administration and management (OAM) for MPLS transport networks. The
determined Recommendation is at odds with an IETF standard, in spite of
an agreement put in place by the ITU and the IETF two years ago to avoid
such an outcome.
Why does this action matter?
By deciding to initiate its own non-interoperable MPLS technology
development, the ITU has created a situation where, in the future there
will be two groups of MPLS products that will not work together. While
the impact may not be immediate, ongoing evolution along this path will
jeopardize the globally interconnected Internet.
Haven’t these international organizations worked together to develop
MPLS standards and technologies?
Yes. Over the last few years, the ITU and the IETF have successfully
collaborated on work in this field. Several years ago, both
organizations created a joint working team (JWT) to examine the
feasibility of developing a single, collaborative solution to MPLS
The JWT provided a report that stated not only that a single solution
was possible but also confirmed that it was possible to extend the
existing MPLS architecture to meet additional requirements. The JWT
report went on to recommend that protocol development for this enhanced
MPLS, to be known as MPLS-TP, should be undertaken by the IETF. Both
organisations subsequently endorsed these findings and formally accepted
the JWT report in December 2008.
Regarding the MPLS OAM, the agreement based on the JWT report also
stated that both organizations are able to work in this field; but with
the fundamental agreement that each would deliver mutually compatible
What is likely to happen with two non-interoperable standards are developed?
If both technologies are deployed, it is likely that there will be
confusion; if only one is deployed, the existence of the alternative is
irrelevant. In this instance, there are believed to be commercial
products in development for both proposals, so confusion appears inevitable.
Is there a commercial reason for the ITU to create a separate standard?
Was the organization responding to customer demand?
The organization is driven to respond to its membership’s demands,
expressed through contributions. Certain members chose to develop this
competing technology in the ITU, developing a second solution, instead
of just one as recommended by the Joint Working Team (JWT).
What role does the IETF play in Internet standards development?
The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is the world’s premier
Internet standards developer. Its mission is to make the Internet work
better by producing high quality, relevant technical documents that
influence the way people design, use, and manage the Internet.
Why are global standards so important?
The Internet we know today could not have come about without open,
interoperable, global standards. The availability of open standards
means that anyone, anywhere in the world can design products,
applications and technologies that enhance the Internet’s functionality.
What about multi-stakeholder collaboration in standards development?
The Internet Society believes that any interested parties, individuals
or organizations should be able to contribute to standards development.
In fact the IETF ensures that any interested person can participate in
its work, know what is being decided, and make his or her voice heard on
the issue. We believe that this collaborative approach leads to the
development of an Internet that delivers the maximum value.
Did the IETF participate in the ITU-T SG15? Who made the decision?
The Internet Society is the organizational home for the IETF, and the
IETF participates through the Internet Society’s ITU-T sector
membership. In that role, the IETF/Internet Society spoke against this
action. Ultimately, the decision was made by a vote. Only ITU member
states (not Sector Members) were allowed to vote.
How has this sort of disconnect between the IETF and ITU been handled in
This action is without precedent.
What will the IETF do?
The IETF will complete its work on a MPLS OAM specification. In the
ongoing pursuit of a globally interoperable solution, the IETF continues
to gather transport requirements and work to extend IETF MPLS
forwarding, OAM, survivability, network management, and control plane
protocols to meet those requirements through the IETF Standards Process.
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