Enterprise Network Management Visibility through the MPLS VPN “Cloud”

MPLS WAN Explorer
By Packet Design
Published 2009, Posted February 2009



Increasing numbers of enterprises are outsourcing their backbone WAN routing to MPLS VPN Service Providers. MPLS VPN WAN services have been gaining in market traction against Frame Relay due to availability of higher bandwidth links, and their price advantage when delivering "full mesh" application traffic between many sites in the network, as opposed to simple hub and spoke. However, MPLS VPN WAN services come with some serious network management liabilities that can be quite costly. Once MPLS VPNs are deployed, IT loses end-to-end routing and traffic visibility across the WAN backbone. This loss of visibility makes it more difficult to keep Service Providers accountable for service quality, causing costly finger-pointing when problems occur. More importantly, the lack of end-to-end routing and traffic visibility greatly impairs key network operations and engineering processes, which increases the cost of managing the network while causing application delivery to suffer.

Packet Design’s MPLS WAN Explorer restores much-needed network-wide routing visibility to enterprises that utilize MPLS VPN services for their WAN backbone. MPLS WAN Explorer extends Packet Design’s industry-leading route analytics technology, which leverages the network’s live routing protocols as a source of network management information. With MPLS WAN Explorer, enterprises can now see beyond the traditional borders of their internal networks and understand their end-to-end network, even across MPLS VPNs. MPLS WAN Explorer greatly improves network monitoring and troubleshooting processes with network-wide routing visualization, Layer 3 network reachability monitoring and alerting, re-windable troubleshooting history, end-to-end path tracing, and detailed analysis tools.

This paper reviews how Layer 3 MPLS VPNs work, and explores the network management challenges introduced by deploying them. The paper then introduces MPLS WAN Explorer, the route analytics technology that powers it, how it works across MPLS VPNs, and illustrates how MPLS WAN Explorer can help enterprises increase the efficiency and accuracy of key network management processes, keep Service Providers accountable for service quality, and more successfully deliver end-users’ application traffic.


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