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Should my MPLS network be Layer 3-based or router-based?

Should my network of about 50,000 users and an MPLS backbone be Layer 3-based or router-based? What are the advantages and disadvantages of both? Are there any scenarios where one should be preferred over the other?
It all depends on what kind of network you want. Layer 3 switches are faster than routers, but they usually lack some of the advanced functionalities (like some advanced access list options) of the routers.

I have worked for an organization in the past, which had MPLS backbone, and they used Layer 3 switches at remote...

locations and routers at the central location. This helped them to keep all the advanced functionalities at the hub location, and at the same time, have the fast switching of Layer 3 switches.

I cannot give you exact situations in which you should use Layer 3 switch or a router, but I like the idea of using Layer 3 switches at the remote locations (this way, you can use the same switch to connect users, as well as terminate the WAN link), and using routers at the central office.

This was last published in November 2004

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