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What is the difference between MPLS L2VPN and L3VPN?

MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) is a versatile technology used in modern networking to efficiently route data between locations. MPLS provides two primary types of VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) known as L2VPN (Layer 2 VPN) and L3VPN (Layer 3 VPN). These two VPN types are distinct in their architecture and use cases, and understanding their differences is crucial for network engineers and architects: difference between l2vpn and l3vpn

MPLS L2VPN – Bridging the Gap

MPLS L2VPN, as the name suggests, operates at Layer 2 of the OSI model. This means it deals with data link layer information, primarily Ethernet frames. L2VPN is like extending a physical Ethernet segment over the MPLS network, allowing multiple remote sites to appear as if they are part of the same local Ethernet network. Here are key characteristics of MPLS L2VPN:

Transparency: L2VPN is transparent to the customer’s network, meaning it does not involve IP routing or address translation. It essentially bridges remote LANs together.

Emulates Ethernet: L2VPN emulates an Ethernet segment over the MPLS network, providing the same broadcast and multicast capabilities as a local Ethernet network.

MAC Addresses: It uses MAC (Media Access Control) addresses for forwarding traffic within the VPN, making it ideal for scenarios where preserving the original LAN structure is crucial.

Example Use Case: MPLS L2VPN is commonly used for scenarios like connecting multiple branch offices of an organization to a central data center as if they were all on the same LAN segment.

MPLS L3VPN – Routing Beyond Boundaries

MPLS L3VPN, on the other hand, operates at Layer 3, the network layer, and is deeply involved in IP routing. It extends the customer’s IP network over the MPLS infrastructure. Here are key characteristics of MPLS L3VPN:

IP Routing: L3VPN is based on IP routing, and it routes IP packets between customer sites. Each site can have its own IP subnet.

VRF (Virtual Routing and Forwarding): It uses VRF instances to keep customer routes separate. Each VRF acts as a separate routing table.

Internet Connectivity: L3VPN can provide direct internet access to each remote site without compromising security or privacy.

Example Use Case: MPLS L3VPN is commonly used when an organization needs to connect multiple sites and route IP traffic between them securely, often with the ability to access the internet: https://www.spotoclub.com/

Key Differences Between MPLS L2VPN and L3VPN

Layer of Operation:

L2VPN operates at Layer 2 (Data Link Layer).

L3VPN operates at Layer 3 (Network Layer).


L2VPN uses MAC addresses for forwarding.

L3VPN uses IP addresses for routing.

Network Structure:

L2VPN extends Ethernet segments as if they are part of the same LAN.

L3VPN connects remote sites as part of a routed IP network, allowing for more complex topologies.

Use Cases:

L2VPN is ideal for scenarios requiring transparent LAN extension.

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Rebecca Gregory
Rebecca Gregoryhttps://thetgossip.com/
Rebecca is the Editor in Chief and a writer at 1. methstreamsweb.com 2. thetgossip.com. He has been writing and publish the blog since its inception in 2013. Rebecca has a passion for writing about technology, health, business, personal development, and some more categories. He is also helps people achieve their goals. Email: rabecca1034@gmail.com

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