Virtual Private LAN Service (VPLS) is a technology that provides Ethernet based multi-point to multi-point communication over IP/MPLS networks. It allows geographically dispersed sites to share an Ethernet broadcast domain by connecting sites through pseudo-wires.
VPLS is a virtual private network (VPN) technology that allows any-to-any (multi-point) connectivity.
In a VPLS, the local area network (LAN) at each site is extended to the edge of the provider network. The provider network then emulates a switch or bridge to connect all of the customer LANs to create a single bridged LAN. Customers receive the benefits from lower latency and jitter.
By providing a fully meshed Ethernet network, the customer is provided with a greater level of manageability, since network changes do not require the assistance of the carrier. In addition, some carriers provide robust online management tools that allow the customer to view every single hop of their VPLS network, right down to the local loop. This provides greater ease in trouble shooting network problems or failures.
Advantages of VPLS:
- Lower latency
- Fast, secure and homogeneous network
- Often a lower cost per Mbps of bandwidth than MPLS
- Handles legacy protocols, in addition to IP
- Technology is not complicated if you understand Ethernet
Disadvantages of VPLS:
- Customer manages their own network, not the carrier. Larger organizations are more likely to have these resources
- Challenging to manage with large numbers of MAC addresses, since there is no hierarchy, like IP addresses
- Not as scalable to large numbers of locations, i.e. networks with over 200 locations
- Ethernet local loops may not be available in all locations around the world
If your network needs the absolute lowest latency and packet loss, or the use of Global Ethernet is of value, VPLS may be worth investigating further.