Is MPLS mandatory for Traffic Engineering?

Is MPLS mandatory for Traffic Engineering? What is Traffic Engineering in the first place ?   Wikipedia defines traffic engineering as below. ” Internet traffic engineering is defined as that aspect of Internet network engineering dealing with the issue of performance evaluation and performance optimization of operational IP networks.” So we are managing the performance with traffic engineering. We divert network traffic when it is necessary.

Maybe there are some idle links, maybe there are over provisioned capacity which we would like to use, maybe some applications require low latency links and maybe some applications are okay with higher latency links but require higher bandwidth for the operations. Okay, based on our applications and required traffic demand we should be able to use any of our available link in the network. For very small scale network, maybe you don’t have any alternative but you have to use all available links

. But in large scale networks, there are always optimal paths for different traffic demand and with traffic engineering we exactly manage the traffic demands. But, If I ask you , why you do traffic engineering ? What is the overall purpose ? Probably you jumped immediately and think about sending different applications traffic through different paths, creating LSPs over different physical paths maybe and how to send traffic though available unused paths. If you do that, you don’t ask correct questions and as I always say, asking correct questions show your intelligence. And asking the correct questions teach you how to be a master in ant technology.

Well, you do traffic engineering to save the cost. Main reason is cost reduction, avoidance or savings. I talked as a finance guy I know but I learned that they are different things ? Is MPLS only way to do traffic engineering ? This is the topic of this post. What do you think ? Let me tell you something. Think always out of the box. What I told you before , how would you do the traffic engineering ? You will send different traffic flows through different paths based on some criteria. For this you don’t need MPLS Traffic Engineering of course. You can do it with PBR , IGP , BGP , anything. Actually you are doing traffic engineering everyday.

Even with static routing. Just different technologies use different approach for traffic engineering. You do MPLS Traffic Engineering by creating tunnels, with IGP by using metric and with BGP by using communities.

Ultimately, you manage to send different traffic demands through available paths by keeping your constraints in mind. Low latency path , higher bandwidth links, SRLG disjoint paths and so on. I wrote an article to illustrate IGP Traffic Engineering as an MPLS Traffic Engineering Alternatives If you have any question or comment please share in the comment box below.

Created by
Orhan Ergun

Orhan Ergun, CCIE/CCDE Trainer, Author of Many Networking Books, Network Design Advisor, and Cisco Champion 2019/2020/2021

He created OrhanErgun.Net 10 years ago and has been serving the IT industry with his renowned and awarded training.

Wrote many books, mostly on Network Design, joined many IETF RFCs, gave Public talks at many Forums, and mentored thousands of his students.  

Today, with his carefully selected instructors, OrhanErgun.Net is providing IT courses to tens of thousands of IT engineers. 

View profile