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Modeling Multi-protocol Label Switching Networks in the Laboratory

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Topics in Computing and Information Technologies I

Tagged Division

Computing & Information Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1164.1 - 26.1164.16



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Paper Authors


Jeffrey Erin Cole Acute Systems, LLC

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Jeffrey Cole is a Master’s of Electrical Engineering Technology graduate from Southern Polytechnic State University. His research included various configurations such as basic MPLS, AToM, MPLS Layer 3 VPNs and MPLS Traffic Engineering. Other topics included network performance measurements, network time protocols and network traffic generator analysis. Undergraduate studies were completed at the University of Detroit Mercy in Computer and Information Science. He has over 9 years of experience in the Information Technology field including various healthcare providers and AT&T. Currently, he is a Senior Network Engineer within the healthcare industry in Atlanta, GA.

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Walter E Thain Southern Polytechnic College of Engr and Engr Tech

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Walter E. Thain received his BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is an Associate Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology at Southern Polytechnic State University and teaches courses in voice and data networking, analog and RF electronics, and communications systems. Research interests include voice and data network design and management, network security, RF communication systems, RF and microwave measurements, and digital signal processing. He worked 12 years in industry, where he designed mixed analog-digital systems, including, short-pulse radars and antennas, low-noise analog circuits, RF circuits, pulse generators, frequency synthesizers, switching power supplies, and high-speed digital circuits. He is co-inventor on a patent for the design of electronic instrumentation used to steer oil wells while drilling.

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Thomas Fallon Southern Polytechnic College of Engr and Engr Tech

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Thomas J. Fallon received his BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. degree in Astronomy from Georgia State University. He is a Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology at Kennesaw State University and has taught and/or worked for 20 years in the field of telecommunications, has conducted several networking workshops, and is author of the book The Internet Today. His astronomy Ph.D. research at Georgia State University involved the
remote operation of a telescope array via the Internet.

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Modeling Multi-Protocol Label Switching Networks in the LaboratoryThe advantage of multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) over other wide-area network (WAN)technologies has led to its recent growth and adoption in enterprise and service providernetworks. Giving students opportunities to study and build MPLS networks either as part of aninstructional lab course or for research applications can be beneficial in their future careers.However it is challenging to build an appropriate lab network. Simulators such as OPNET canmodel complex MPLS networks, but routers are modeled at high level. Designing, researchingand implementing a low cost network solution with actual routers gives students invaluablepractical experience.This paper describes a simple, small-scale, lab network that allows students to experiment withkey capabilities of MPLS. The network was used to model a basic MPLS configuration, anytransport over MPLS (AToM) and MPLS Layer 3 VPNs and it provides a foundation for furtheradvanced MPLS configurations such as virtual private LAN service (VPLS), Ethernet VPN(EVPN) and MPLS traffic engineering. The lab network was implemented with open-shortest-path-first (OSPF) and border gateway protocol (BGP) but other routing protocols may be used.Laboratory experiments based on the MPLS network with associated learning objectives arediscussed.MPLS is a WAN technology that is normally implemented on core and distribution routers. Itcan be challenging to find a suitable, low-cost router for academic lab networks. Our lab hadsome Cisco 2851 access routers available and recently Cisco began supporting MPLS in itsinternet operating system (IOS) on these smaller platforms. Other router and IOS selections arepossible and some alternatives are discussed.

Cole, J. E., & Thain, W. E., & Fallon, T. (2015, June), Modeling Multi-protocol Label Switching Networks in the Laboratory Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24501

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