Technical Information Bulletin 02-4: Advancements in Photonic Network Architecture Migration: The Evolution and Development of Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), Generalized Multiprotocol Label Switching (GMPLS), and Advanced Optical Switching   [open pdf - 877KB]

Motivation for protocol developments like MPLS and GMPLS arose from fundamental shifts in telecommunications market demand. During the 1980s, data networks played a minor role in the definition of network architectures. IP traffic was largely an academic phenomena limited to an obscure research and development network called the "Internet." Events in the 1990s such as the development of browsers, web servers, HTML, and opening the Internet to commercial applications created another market shift so large that its ramifications are not completely felt nor understood. The need for better support for IP-centric network services came to the forefront during the Internet traffic explosion of the 1990s. Prior to the Internet boom, carrier networks, residential services, and to a somewhat lesser degree, enterprise networks were voice-centric. Commercialization of the Internet, rapid moves to electronic commerce (e-commerce), and heavy investments in "dot.com" start-up ventures during the 1990s created a market in which data traffic doubled every six months. Industry observers forecast that the number of Internet users will double to 600 million by 2010. Such growth will place new demands on service providers for capacity and reliability. It is apparent that the rapid adoption of IP-centric data services operating over carrier networks altered the face of the telecommunications marketplace forever. The shift to IP-centric communication left large voids where users and telecommunications carriers, or simply "carriers", alike found inadequacies in many established communication methods including SONET, frame relay, ATM, and hop-by-hop IP packet routing.

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