virtual private LAN service (VPLS) definition

Contributor(s): Robert Sturt

Virtual private LAN service (VPLS) is a telecom carrier-provided service that makes it possible for customers to create a logical local area network (LAN) structure between geographically separate sites. All services in a VPLS appear to be on the same LAN, regardless of location.

Unlike traditional wide-area network (WAN) connectivity or IP-based virtual private networks, a VPLS can be used to transport non-IP traffic without any need for conversion or encapsulation. A VPLS has a mesh network topology, which means it can provide point-to-point, multipoint services and any-to-any capabilities. In effect, VPLS creates a virtualized Ethernet switch at the service provider's edge, linking multiple remote sites as if they were on the same physical switch.

A VPLS uses multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) to create the appearance of a virtual private network (VPN) at each subscriber location. Ethernet packets are tunneled by pseudo-wire through the provider network, independent of traffic from other Internet users. Frames are forwarded according to layer 2 switching standards and fault-tolerance ensures that each packet arrives intact at its intended destination. Configuration and management of the VPLS can fall either to the service provider or to the in-house networking team, based on the needs of the individual customer.

This was first published in April 2007

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