The emergence of optical transport systems has dramatically increased the raw capacity of optical networks and has enabled new sophisticated applications. For example, network-based storage, bandwidth leasing, data mirroring, add/drop multiplexing [ADM], dense wavelength division multiplexing [DWDM], optical cross-connect [OXC], photonic cross-connect [PXC], and multiservice switching platforms are some of the devices that may make up an optical network and are expected to be the main carriers for the growth in data traffic.
Multiple Types of Switching and Forwarding Hierarchies
Generalized MPLS (GMPLS) differs from traditional MPLS in that it supports multiple types of switching, i.e. the addition of support for TDM, lambda, and fiber (port) switching. The support for the additional types of switching has driven GMPLS to extend certain base functions of traditional MPLS and, in some cases, to add functionality. These changes and additions impact basic LSP properties, how labels are requested and communicated, the unidirectional nature of LSPs, how errors are propagated, and information provided for synchronizing the ingress and egress LSRs.
1. Packet Switch Capable (PSC) interfaces:
Interfaces that recognize packet boundaries and can forward data based on the content of the packet header. Examples include interfaces on routers that forward data based on the content of the IP header and interfaces on routers that forward data based on the content of the MPLS "shim" header.
2 . Time-Division Multiplex Capable (TDM) interfaces:
Interfaces that forward data based on the data's time slot in a repeating cycle. An example of such an interface is that of a SDH/SONET Cross-Connect (XC), Terminal Multiplexer , or Add-Drop Multiplexer (ADM).
3 . Lambda Switch Capable (LSC) interfaces:
Interfaces that forward data based on the wavelength on which the data is received. An example of such an interface is that of a Photonic Cross-Connect (PXC) or Optical Cross-Connect (OXC) that can operate at the level of an individual wavelength. Additional examples include PXC interfaces that can operate at the level of a group of wavelengths, i.e. a waveband.
4. Fiber-Switch Capable (FSC) interfaces:
Interfaces that forward data based on a position of the data in the real world physical spaces. An example of such an interface is that of a PXC or OXC that can operate at the level of a single or multiple fibers.
The diversity and complexity in managing these devices have been the main driving factors in the evolution and enhancement of the MPLS suite of protocols to provide control for not only packet-based domains, but also time, wavelength, and space domains. GMPLS further extends the suite of IP-based protocols that manage and control the establishment and release of label switched paths (LSP) that traverse any combination of packet, TDM, and optical networks. GMPLS adopts all technology in MPLS.