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Job Requirements - MPLS experience

I'm a CCNP and have decent experience in the industry, however I have not worked for a service provider and do not have direct MPLS experience - only the education required for the CCNP tests. My understanding of MPLS is that it is a service provider technology that allows that provider to securely, quickly and efficiently provide virtual networks for their clients which will allow internal addressing to span the provider network, even if multiple clients use the same internal addressing. The end clients only use their standard routing protocols across the provider network and do not need to know anything about MPLS since it is transparent to them. Lately I’ve been seeing a few whitepapers that talk about using MPLS within large campus environments but I would be a bit surprised to see this used a lot because of the size of the campus that be able to gain the benefits of using it. (am I wrong?)

What I’m seeing lately though is that there are a lot of job advertisements that are looking for MPLS experience and are not talking to you unless you have it. In your opinion are they looking for 1) a former service provider engineer, 2) a person who worked for a client who used MPLS and although they won’t directly implement it they want someone familiar with it to support their traffic going across the MPLS, 3) someone to locally implement MPLS (and therefore my supposition from above IS wrong) or 4) they are looking for someone to continue to ‘bull’ them and tell them that they have experience when they don’t really have it?

I’m looking for opinions regarding the job economy out there. I know that you can’t know for sure what they are looking for unless you’ve placed the ad yourself. Please feel free to educate me as well if I’m making wrong assumptions. Thanks.

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Re: Job Requirements - MPLS experience

get hold of the CCIP MPLS knowledgenet workbooks... beg, borrow... but don't steal

get yourself gns 3 with some 7200s or 3600s with MPLS enabled IOS

run through the workbooks using gns3. you will learn a lot. probably more than you would being a 1st/2nd line engineer at a large SP

i can see why mpls would be a good technology to use in a campus. mpls layer 3 vpn's could be used as alternatives to vlan technologies


Re: Job Requirements - MPLS experience

Great advice, and I'll certainly work on this (anyone have any of those books they want to sell?) but it's not really what I was asking about. Let me rephrase it this way...if you consider yourself as having MPLS experience, did you get that experience by working at a service provider or somewhere else?


Re: Job Requirements - MPLS experience

ok, let me clarify. i am a ccnp/ccip who works for a service provider. i deal with mpls forwarding, AToM services and mpls l3 von (mp-bgp) on a daily basis.

if you use mpls in an enterprise network, it is no different ot using it in a service provider network. the technologies used will be identical. size of the network does not matter. mpls can be useful in a network of 3 routers.


Re: Job Requirements - MPLS experience

I understand what you're saying, and yes you could use it in a small environment, but perhaps this is leading to what I've not quite grasped. Let me give an analogy – you could cut up your local network and use eBGP instead of EIGRP/OSPF or something, but the question would be “why would you”? I understand that you could use MPLS in a small environment, but what are the benefits of that? Are you just trying to avoid having VLANs go across your core backbone? And is this type of MPLS implementation what these companies that are asking for MPLS experience trying to implement?

(Note: these people that I’ve seen asking for MPLS are NOT service providers. I’m trying to determine whether they’re just asking for something because they have heard of MPLS or are they actually trying to implement it)


Re: Job Requirements - MPLS experience

actually, i could suggest cutting up your network and using bgp (ibgp not ebgp (unless you use a confed). the igp would be there to support ibgp. ibgp carries your IPv4  'customer' routing as it gives good control of ipv4 routing information flow (using tools like communities). this leaves the igp free to just support the infrastructure.

if you then throw mpls into the mix, it allows you to run multiprotocol bgp on top of the igp and ipv4 bgp. it also facilitates easy layer 2 circuits over your ip infrastructure (atom eompls), and engineer how those circuits work (mpls-te). mp-bgp also allows you to run mpls layer 3 vpn's (address-family vpnv4), which you could use as an alternative vlan technologies. when you are dealing with vlans, it is probably more difficult to control routing info flow between vlans - you need private vlans, acls etc, and you also need to extend this layer 2 across your network, introducing stp into the backbone. basically, i think managing l2 networks is more of a headache than managing l3 networks

with mpls layer 3 vpn, you can use overlapping vpns to achieve similar results to vlans, but without the l2 headache. it also allows you to easily run centralized services such as DHCP/NAT, provide multicast services inside mpls vpns, and provide internet access methods as well.

if you then think that you can provide ipv6 over an ipv4 network (without migrating to ospfv3 or isis or running 6to4 tunnels) using mp-bgp cisco 6pe, it makes it an attractive method of migrating to ipv6 without disrupting your core.

get hold of a book and read about overlapping vpns... cisco press mpls vpn architectures. you will then see the benefits of this over some enterprise type technologies.


Re: Job Requirements - MPLS experience

Its all part of the IT myth that

you need experience of the latest and greatest technology, over the years it has been the following

Timeplex required, x25 required, ATM required, Cisco required, frame required, lan switching required etc etc

If you are a capable engineer MPLS will be no great shakes its just buzzwords for recruiters who know jack themselves and like to justfiy thier existance by throwing barriers up to prospective candidates and recruiting managers go along with it.

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