MPLS (abbreviation for Multiprotocol Label Switching) enables a service provider to provision an economical and flexible VPN across a shared network infrastructure. MPLS sends data along the most efficient routes using labels. It directs data from one network node to the next based on labels rather than long network addresses and therefore avoiding complex lookups.
VPLS (Abbreviation for Virtual Private LAN Service) is a service that uses MPLS to securely and seamlessly connect multiple LANs over the Internet, making them appear as if they were all on the same LAN. VPLS extends a Layer 2 network across geographically dispersed sites using a shared network infrastructure. VPLS creates a virtualized Ethernet switch at the provider’s edge to link remote sites.
While both MPLS and VPLS supporting point to multipoint connectivity across diverse customer locations, still they have contrasting characteristics.
In case of MPLS, provider participates and is fully aware of customer location routes including LAN, VPLS in contrast works as Layer 2 technology and does not participate or control customer site routes. This arrangement where VPLS isn’t aware of customer side network routes makes it preferred choice when it comes to financial customer or customer requiring highly secured WAN connectivity.
VPLS also becomes useful in scenarios where non-IP traffic needs to be transported over WAN towards other customer remote locations/offices. However, VPLS pays the price in terms of scalability. Due to VPLS principle of working as Layer 2 medium, hence Ethernet broadcasts are sent over WAN links and therefore consumes bandwidth which reduces scalability.
Below table enumerates difference between MPLS and VPLS –