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Table of Contents
Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Multi-Protocol Over ATM (MPOA) . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Three Basic Elements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Logical Components . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
For more information
on ATM and MPOA How it Works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13

visit these web sites: Migration and Co-existence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

Conclusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
Fore Systems Appendix—Alternative Approaches to . . . . . . . . .
Integration of ATM with Routing . . . . . . . . . 20
Glossary of Terms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

IBM About the Editor… Gerald P. Ryan is the founder of Connections Telecommunications
Inc., a Massachusetts-based company specializing in consulting,
education and software tools which address Wide Area Network
issues. Mr. Ryan has developed and taught numerous courses in
Madge Networks network analysis and design for carriers, government agencies and
private industry. Connections has provided consulting support in the areas of WAN network design, negotiation with carriers for contract
pricing and services, technology acquisition, customized software
development for network administration, billing and auditing of
telecommunications expenses, project management, and RFP
Newbridge Networks generation. Mr. Ryan is a member of the Networld+Interop
program committee.
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Copyright © 1997 by The Applied Technologies Group, One Apple Hill,
Suite 216, Natick, MA 01760, Tel: (508) 651-1155, Fax: (508) 651-1171
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Executive Summary standard routing protocols, such as RIP (Routing
Information Protocol) and OSPF (Open Shortest Path
First). This allows a seamless integration with the
As networks become more strategic to the success installed base of conventional routers.
of knowledge-based organizations, it is clear that MPOA enables network managers and network
current technology will have to evolve in order to operators to build multi-vendor, multiprotocol campus,
meet the constant demands of traffic growth and new MAN (Metropolitan Area Network), WAN (Wide Area
applications. With the remarkable growth of both the Network), private, public and virtual private networks.
Internet and the intranets—as well as client/server and Building on existing ATM Forum and IETF (Internet
multimedia applications—bandwidth demands and Engineering Task Force) standards, MPOA is designed
traffic trends are radically different than they were just to offer significant scalability using mature technologies.
a few years ago. For example, ATM’s ability to provide end-to-end
Conventional router-based topologies that could signaling, traffic management, and trunking offer
adequately meet all of a corporation’s needs in the immediate benefits to building large MPOA systems.
past, can no longer provide the performance required Furthermore, ATM’s built in QoS benefits can be
for today’s enterprise networks. This is because the realized for multimedia applications that involve contin-
emergence of Internet, intranet, client/server and uous flows of voice and video traffic that requires
multimedia applications has caused a dramatic shift bandwidth guarantees. The result is a multi-gigabit
in the conventional internetworking paradigm. For routing infrastructure that is ideally suited to meet all
example, while 80% of network traffic used to be local- of the emerging demands associated with the latest
ized within subnets, today this trend is reversing to network applications.
where increasingly higher percentage of traffic is From a management perspective, the MPOA
traversing subnet domains. In addition, while a shared design enables the aggregation of multiple routing
network medium used to be sufficient for the majority instances to provide a consolidated enterprise view
of desktop requirements, today switched technologies of the routed network. Furthermore, the connection-
with Quality of Service (QoS) guarantees are required oriented ATM fabric has introduced a powerful new
to support current and emerging applications. concept of virtual networks, or more accurately,
Multiprotocol Over ATM (MPOA), is a specifica- allowing the separation of logical constructs from the
tion from the ATM Forum that leverages standards- physical topology of the network at the network layer.
based ATM switching to deliver high performance, This concept, when implemented effectively can
scalable routing functionality. The MPOA solution greatly simplify network management tasks by simpli-
maps routed and bridged flows of traffic to ATM fying the configuration of the network, and eliminating
switched virtual channels (SVCs), off-loading traditional overhead with moves, adds and changes.
routers from performing packet-by-packet processing.
By leveraging hardware-based ATM switching fabric,
MPOA significantly improves performance in terms
of throughput, overall latency and end-to-end delay
variation for routed traffic. Furthermore, MPOA based
networks communicate with conventional routers via

2 • MPOA—Multiprotocol over ATM Technology Guide • 3

Introduction Control and Management Plane

The fundamental challenge for router-based R R
networks arises when networks grow in size and new
applications are employed which use greater amounts R
of data and delay-sensitive multi-media traffic. As R
some of the first steps in responding to user complaints R
about poor performance, network managers rushed to R= Conventional
Data Plane Router
remedy the bandwidth shortage at the desktop by
deploying high-speed LAN switches at the edge of the Figure 1
network and ATM switches for their backbone woes.
As users continue to send and receive large volumes As shown in Figure 1, in a connectionless environ-
of traffic across subnet boundaries, the same LAN and ment, each frame within a flow of data is subject to
ATM switches are now sending millions of packets address mapping computations within the router
per second to their backbone routers. Even the fastest and this process is repeated at every router hop in the
routers, capable of processing up to 500,000 packets a network. This implies that each router in the network
second, are becoming bottlenecks for the cross subnet shown above must run the full multi-protocol routing
traffic generated by pervasive use of Internet, intranets stack. This is not only expensive from equipment
and multi-media traffic. and software perspective, but is also complex from a
Routers also introduce delay as they perform the network management point of view. Each router in the
tasks of address resolution, route determination, and network must be independently configured, maintained
packet filtering. The more traffic there is and more and managed.
router hops that this traffic encounters to reach the In some cases, to improve performance, routers
final destination, the larger the aggregate delay caused can simply be replaced by high speed ATM switches,
by these routers. To make matters worse, the latency but in so doing, all of the tasks accomplished by the
on each frame varies, resulting in a delay variation that routers are lost. So the challenge is to integrate routing
is not deterministic in nature and unsuitable for multi- functionality with the ATM infrastructure without
media applications. imposing significant bottlenecks or latency onto the
Routers usually accept network layer frames traffic stream. This challenge is amplified when the
addressed to them from hosts connected to the LAN requirements include large populations, over wide
subnets and forward these frames to the destination areas, with mixed media and heavy traffic loads.
hosts on other subnets. This operates in a connection- It is also clear that the resulting solution must inte-
less mode, according to the routing protocol being grate the advantages of ATM technology with existing
used. LAN technologies such as Ethernet and Token Ring to
preserve the investment in existing hardware, and with
TCP/IP and IPX/SPX to preserve compatibility with
the massive installed base of applications.

4 • MPOA—Multiprotocol over ATM Technology Guide • 5

Multi-Protocol Over ATM (MPOA) stations also becomes more deterministic.
The MPOA framework provides a unified model
for overlaying inter-networking layer protocols onto
The ATM Forum has worked in cooperation with ATM. While vendors will implement different flavors
the IETF to develop MPOA—a powerful network layer of physical implementations of the MPOA framework,
routing solution that integrates and leverages existing the specifications assure interoperability amongst ven-
protocols and standards to provide routing functionality dors. The general concept involves splitting forwarding
over switched ATM networks. It provides unprecedented and routing functions traditionally supported within
scalability and flexibility by introducing a concept conventional multi-protocol routers between MPOA
known as a “virtual router”. The “virtual router” Clients and MPOA Servers. Address management
emulates the functionality of traditional routed net- and topology discovery, for example, are performed by
works, but eliminates the performance limitations of the MPOA server (MPS), while traffic forwarding is
hop by hop routing. Shortcut connections are setup provided by MPOA Clients (MPCs) via the ATM
over the ATM fabric from any MPOA capable host or switch fabric. The MPS typically resides in an ATM
edge device to any other, regardless of their subnet switch-router or a stand-alone ATM attached route
membership. In essence, MPOA identifies data “flows” server, while MPCs reside in edge devices and ATM
and maps them directly to ATM virtual channels. This attached hosts. This provides a physical separation
technique of establishing shortcuts directly across the between the devices that calculate the internetwork
ATM network is sometimes referred to as “cut- route and those that forward the data. As a result,
through” or “zero-hop” routing. while traditional routers are limited by the speed of
Routing MPOA their proprietary back-planes, an MPOA based routing
Router Subnet A Subnet C system leverages products such as standard-based ATM
ATM Subnet B
switches resulting in a multi-gigabit routing infrastruc-
Forwarding Switch ture that is ideally suited to meet all of the emerging
Shortcut Connection demands associated with routed LAN and WAN inter-
MPOA MPOA A2 networks.
Edge Edge
Switch Switch
Device C1 Furthermore, since transport services are provided
over a standards-based ATM infrastructure by mapping
C2 B3
A3 B2 network layer protocols such as IP and IPX directly to
ATM, it enables QoS mechanisms being developed
Figure 2 for IP, such as RSVP to be exposed to the underlying
ATM fabric. The end result is that time sensitive traffic
The establishment of a shortcut connection over can utilize QoS capabilities of an ATM infrastructure
the ATM fabric provides a significant improvement in while leveraging low cost installed technologies, such as
performance over pure router based inter-subnet solu- Ethernet and TCP/IP at the desktops. This allows for
tions. Packets transported over the shortcut connection affordable, high performance multi-media applications
are no longer subjected to the hop by hop router such as video conferencing, video distribution and
processing in traditional networks. Besides improvement distance learning.
in performance, the end to end delay between end

6 • MPOA—Multiprotocol over ATM Technology Guide • 7

Control and Management Plane LANE
MPOA Servers MPOA overcomes some of the performance and
R R R R scalability limitations of LANE based networks. However,
LANE Version 2 is an integral component of MPOA.
LANE is used for intra-subnet communications, while
Device the MPOA virtual router provides communications



R R R R between subnets. Refer to Appendix for a more detailed

explanation of LANE operation.
RR = Conventional
Data Plane Router
X = ATM Switch
Figure 3 Next Hop Resolution Protocol—NHRP
As can be seen in Figure 3, the MPOA servers run The IETF has defined Next Hop Resolution
the full routing stack which results in a consolidated Protocol (NHRP) which among other capabilities,
configuration for the entire network. The switches are allows the packet forwarding function of intermediate
standards based ATM switches which results in a routers on the data path to be bypassed. NHRP
highly scalable, low cost, high performance network provides an extended address resolution protocol that
infrastructure. Edge devices are optimized for forward- permits Next Hop Clients (NHCs) to send queries
ing network layer and Layer 2 traffic resulting in between different logical IP subnets (LISs) sometimes
network wide virtual networks and zero-hop routing referred to as Local Address Groups (LAGs). Queries
across the ATM network. are propagated using Next Hop Servers (NHSs) along
paths discovered by standard routing protocols such as
RIP and OSPF. This enables the establishment of
ATM SVCs across subnet boundaries, allowing inter-
Three Basic Elements subnet communications without using intermediate
routers for qualified data flows.
MPOA uses three complementary techniques
to form its fundamental capability. These are ATM
Forum’s LAN Emulation (LANE), the IETF’s Next
Hop Resolution Protocol (NHRP) and the concept
of the Virtual Router. LANE supports native LAN
environments over ATM in a transparent manner,
while NHRP provides a mechanisms to establish a
shortcut over the ATM backbone based on network
layer addressing.. Virtual Routers provide the ability
to separate functions among various elements of the
network, which reduces cost and improves efficiency.

8 • MPOA—Multiprotocol over ATM Technology Guide • 9

Virtual Router Logical Components
A virtual router is a set of devices operating over
a network which collectively provide the functionality
MPOA defines logical components that can be
of multiprotocol routed networks. In the case of MPOA
implemented in various hardware configurations. The
the edge devices are analogous to router interface
separation of function allows vendors to package their
cards; the ATM switching fabric can be seen as the
unique solutions to meet the particular needs of their
“backplane” of the router; and the MPOA Server is
analogous to the control processor. The MPOA frame-
work defines the protocols between the MPOA Server MPOA Edge Device MPOA
or Host Router
and the edge devices that enable the “virtual router”
behavior. MPOA Client MPOA Next Hop
Server Server

Traditional Router Virtual Router Layer 3 LAN

forwarding emulation ELAN LEC engine
engine client (LEC)
MPOA Server
Figure 5
Switching Fabric Edge Devices
Sta ased
Ba ards


Edge devices are inexpensive devices which forward



I/O packets between legacy LAN segments and ATM inter-


Edge Devices
faces based on the destination network layer address
and MAC layer address.
Figure 4

MPCs reside in the Edge Device or ATM attached
hosts and their primary function is to act as a point of
entry and exit for traffic using internetwork shortcuts.
An MPC looks for traffic flows, and when found, it
requests its serving MPS to provide information on the
destination and check that a shortcut is acceptable. If
it is , the MPC sets up a SVC and forwards data to
the destination across the path. The MPC and MPS
communicate with each other using NHRP. The MPC
caches the shortcut information it derives from its
interaction with the MPS. SVCs with no activity are
inactivated upon the expiration of a variable time-out.

10 • MPOA—Multiprotocol over ATM Technology Guide • 11

MPOA Router effective cache-management techniques, including
The MPOA Router is a collection of functions ensuring cache coherency between MPCs and MPSs.
that allow the mapping of network layer subnets to
ATM. The MPOA Router can be implemented as Virtual Subnets
a standalone product, or can be built into existing MPOA uses network layer constructs in defining
routers or switches. It maintains local network layer, “virtual” subnetworks. They denote both a Layer 3
MAC-layer and ATM address information in addition protocol and an address range. In the case of IP, they
to routing tables. MPOA Routers communicate via can be thought of as “virtual subnets”. The MPOA
NHRP to resolve destination addresses so that MPCs model supports all existing LAN internetwork data
can establish shortcuts. The Routing engine runs flows, including both intra-subnet and inter-subnet.
routing protocols (e.g., RIP and OSPF) to communicate
routing information with “traditional routers”, allowing
interoperability with existing routed LAN and WAN
internetworks. How it Works
MPOA Server—MPS The MPOA model distributes routing among edge
An MPS is a logical component of the MPOA devices and ATM attached hosts with MPOA Clients,
Router that provides Layer 3 forwarding information which forward packets, and MPOA Servers, which
to MPCs. It also includes an NHRP server (NHS) supply routing information. MPCs examine the desti-
function. The MPS interacts with its associated routing nation address of packets received on legacy LAN
function and its NHS to identify a path represented by segments in order to make the correct forwarding
the destination ATM address and Layer 2 encapsulation decision. If the packet is to be routed, it will contain
information which it returns in response to a query the destination MAC address of the MPOA Router
from the MPC. interface. If so, the MPC will look at the destination
network layer address of the packet, and resolve this
Caching to the correct ATM address based on information
Since it is commonplace for users in a routed received from the MPOA Server or use information in
internetwork to have repetitive and habitual external its cache. The MPC will then establish a direct virtual
addresses to which they need to be connected; e.g., channel connection to the appropriate destination.
particular file servers or remote corporate destinations, If the packet is destined to a host in the same subnet
the edge device can save (“cache”) this virtual channel so that it can be bridged, the MPC will use LANE to
information to be reused without having to issue address resolve the ATM address and establish a virtual
resolution requests for every flow. This is a valuable channel connection to the destination.
aspect of the MPOA concept. A design goal of MPOA If the local MPOA Server does not know the
is to minimize the number of times the edge device appropriate ATM address, it can propagate the query
must visit the route server to retrieve this information. to other MPOA Servers or routers using NHRP
To that end, the MPC maintains its own address cache. functionality. The destination ATM address from
Much of the MPOA effort is devoted to devising the MPOA Server can be the address of the host

12 • MPOA—Multiprotocol over ATM Technology Guide • 13

(if the host is ATM-attached), or the address of the performance. In the case of steady stream transmissions
appropriate edge device to which the packets should be such as video, this is highly efficient and superior to
forwarded. simple router to router operation.
The following describes the interaction of the
Network Layer Mapping MPCs with the MPS:
MPOA works at network Layer 3 to recognize
the beginning of a data transfer and respond with a
Data for IPaddr2 MPOA
network route destination address. The shortcut SVC Server
ATMaddr1 ATM
is then used to forward traffic using standard Layer 2 IPaddr1 Host
Data for IPaddr2
switching. With both Layer 3 and Layer 2 capabilities,
the MPOA model encompasses routing and switching: ATM Host sends data
destined for IPaddr2 ATM Cloud Edge
1) being able to route and switch network layer traffic; to MPOA Server. Device
MPOA Server will ATMaddr2
and 2) also being able to bridge non-routable traffic. forward data to Edge
Device with IPaddr2 host.
The network layer mapping enables the QoS Figure 6
properties of ATM to be used by network applications.
For example, the IETF’s RSVP protocol operates at
the network layer, and provides mechanisms for appli- Figure 6 illustrates the basic operation of MPOA.
cations to reserve particular quality of service. The The first time that traffic needs to be forwarded from
MPOA framework allows the Layer 3 reservations to ATM Host with IP address of Ipaddr1, the traffic is
be mapped onto the underlying ATM fabric. forwarded to MPOA Server. While forwarding this
traffic, the MPOA Server learns both the IP-to-MAC
address and the MAC-to-ATM address mappings.
Taking a Shortcut—The Basic Concept
The fundamental concept behind the use of Data for IPaddr2 MPOA
MPOA to support multi-protocol LAN-LAN traffic ATMaddr1 ATM
IPaddr1 Host Data for IPaddr2
is based on the fact that, in most cases, data transfer
ATM Host detects ”X”
usually occurs in a relatively steady flow. That is, a packets in ”Y” seconds ATM Cloud
and queries MPOA
file or message being sent usually consists of multiple Server for ATM address Edge
of IPaddress2 Device
frames. For example, a 45K file, using a typical Ether- Direct ATM
When ATM address is Connections
(data for IPAddr2) ATMaddr2
net frame size of 1500 octets would require about 30 resolved, a SVC to IPaddr2
destination is established
frames. Since all 30 frames would travel to the same and the “Short-Cut” flow is used.

destination, it is possible to identify the destination and Figure 7

establish a SVC based on the information contained in
the first frame. Then all 30 frames could be broken As shown in Figure 7, to set up a direct shortcut
into approximately 900 ATM cells and transmitted connection, MPCs obtain the ATM address of the exit
over the virtual channel established by the SVC. This point to which the destination host is connected. The
could be considered a shortcut in that the entire flow of destination host is a host with a network layer address
data follows a pre-established path, avoiding the default that is either connected to a legacy LAN or is ATM
path followed by routed traffic, and greatly improving attached. If it is a host connected to a legacy LAN such

14 • MPOA—Multiprotocol over ATM Technology Guide • 15

as Ethernet or Token Ring, the MPS returns the ATM • On arriving via a shortcut at the Egress MPC, the
address of the edge device that connects to the host on packet is examined and either a matching Egress
the legacy LAN. If the host is ATM attached, the MPS Cache Entry is found or the packet is dropped.
returns the ATM address of the host that corresponds If a match is found, the packet is re-encapsulated
to its network layer address. using the cache information and it is forwarded
via a LAN interface to its destination.
“A Day in the Life of a Packet” • The shortcut is an ATM SVC established for the
The following describes the events that allow a specific data flow.
packet to be sent across an MPOA network using the
shortcut capabilities of the MPOA system.
Migration and Co-existence
Server 2 LIS Server 1

The MPS communicates with external routers

via standard routing protocols, such as RIP and OSPF.
This allows a seamless integration with non-MPOA
systems and with non-shortcut qualified traffic. It is
Client 1 Client 2 important to note that the routing devices in the MPOA
architecture provide all of the ordinary and valuable
Figure 8
functions of a router, including connectionless internet-
• A packet enters the MPOA system at the ingress working across wide area networks, integrity verification,
(entry) MPC (MPOA Client 1 in figure 8). By and route prioritization.
default, the packet is bridged via LANE to the
default router (co-located with MPS 2). From OSPF, RIP
there it is forwarded via the router in MPS 2 to
the destination edge device or host. However, if Router Virtual
this packet is part of a flow for which a shortcut
has been established, the ingress MPC strips off
the Layer 2 encapsulation from the packet and
Figure 9
sends it via the shortcut.
• If no data flow is detected, each packet being sent LANE and MPOA
to an MPS is tallied by its Layer 3 destination While MPOA specifications are implemented to
address as it is being forwarded by LANE. overcome some of the performance and scalability
When the threshold is exceeded (“N” packets to limitations of LANE specifications, LANE Version 2
a specific Layer 3 address within “X” time), the is an integral component of MPOA. The default
MPC sends an MPOA resolution request to the operation for an MPOA device is the standard LANE
MPS to obtain the ATM address to be used for connectivity.
establishing a shortcut to the Egress (exit) MPC.

16 • MPOA—Multiprotocol over ATM Technology Guide • 17

In today’s environments in which LANs are
Since NHRP is an integral component of the
growing in complexity and importance, it is critical
MPOA Server, an MPOA based network can interact
that there be effective systems in place to allow these
with routers that support NHRP functionality to prop-
networks to operate across an ATM fabric. The MPOA
agate ATM address resolution requests.
approach has significant advantages over other Layer 3
switching alternatives. Using cut-through routing over
a switched infrastructure, a system based on MPOA
Conclusions can process and forward tens of millions of packets
per second. This level of scalability and performance
cannot be rivaled by conventional LAN and WAN
It is clear that a specific model for integrating internetworking solutions. In terms of cost and
ATM into today’s multi-protocol networks is needed in complexity, this elegant solution allows organizations
a way that permits organizations to build scalable and to build large scale networks connected together with
manageable multi-media internetworks, retaining the ATM, but with the full capabilities of Routers. Routing
important functionality of routers while allowing the will continue to be important in network architectures
continued use of existing Ethernet, Token Ring, and and will be a key component in any network solution.
TCP/IP and SPX/IPX infrastructures. The ATM Forum continues to work in this important
MPOA integrates LANE and NHRP to preserve area and is addressing the issue of related work in
the benefits of LAN Emulation, while allowing inter- Classical IP, LANE and MARS (Multicast-Address
subnet network layer protocol communication over Resolution Server) for support of Multicast.
ATM SVCs without requiring conventional routers in
the data path. MPOA allows the physical separation of
network layer route calculation and forwarding, a tech-
nique known as Virtual Routing. This separation
provides a number of key benefits:
• High performance and efficient inter-subnet
• Increased manageability by decreasing the
number of devices that must be configured to
perform network layer route calculation
• Increased scalability by reducing the number of
devices participating in the network layer route
• Reduced complexity of the Edge Devices by
eliminating the need to perform network layer
route calculation

18 • MPOA—Multiprotocol over ATM Technology Guide • 19

Appendix—Alternative ments, with multiple subnets, the router latency
continues to be an issue.
Approaches to Integration
of ATM with Routing ARP

A ATM Logical
Edge Routing over ATM Backbone Router IP Subnet
Router C

This approach to internetworking partly alleviates B

the performance bottleneck of router based networks B ATM Attached

by equipping conventional routers with a fully config-
Logical IP Subnet (LIS)
ured set of ATM network links. But it is clear that as
the number of locations and routers increase, the cost Figure 11
of maintaining the fully provisioned mesh of virtual
channels becomes costly as well as complicated to
manage. Furthermore, ATM QoS capabilities are not MAC-layer LAN Emulation (LANE)
utilized if the edge routers continue to treat ATM as The ATM Forum’s LAN Emulation (LANE) is a
just another high speed link. Layer 2 framework that makes a connection-oriented
ATM network seem like a shared connectionless
Subnet A
Ethernet or Token Ring LAN segment. As a Layer 2
A A service, LANE can handle both routable protocols such
Subnet D
A Router D
A A Router D as TCP/IP, IPX, and DECnet as well as non-routable
B protocols such as NetBIOS and SNA. LANE clearly
Network E
B Router
Router E
Subnet B B E
integrates the advantages of ATM with existing LAN
Router Subnet E
technologies such as Ethernet, TCP/IP and IPX/SPX,
C C C Subnet C
enabling high performance communication within the
Physical Network = Logical Network
Figure 10 LANE uses a client/server model, with Emulated
LANs made up of multiple LANE Clients (LECs) and
Classical IP over ATM a LANE Service. The LANE Service provides a MAC
Classical IP over ATM, (RFC1577) is an approach to ATM address resolution and broadcast service to the
that uses the power of ATM to forward IP traffic. It LANE Clients. Clients are implemented on ATM/LAN
is used to connect subnets or workgroups that use only edge devices and ATM attached hosts, while the LANE
IP as the transport protocol. As in edge routing over Service can be implemented in a router, LAN or ATM
ATM, QoS capabilities of ATM are ignored. It is switch, or in a standalone ATM equipped device.
possible to have multiple subnets on the same network, LANE still requires traditional network layer
but at present each subnet must operate independently routers to interconnect these workgroups, significantly
of the others and routers are required to provide limiting the overall performance and scalability of the
communications between subnets. In complex environ- network.

20 • MPOA—Multiprotocol over ATM Technology Guide • 21

Furthermore, as the number of hosts and subnets
grow, the computational requirements to calculate
routes among different subnets and the memory
requirements to store these routes can overwhelm the AAL—ATM Adaptation Layer. The standards layer
capacity of conventional routers. that allows multiple applications to have data converted
to and from the ATM cell. A protocol used that trans-
Layer 2
lates higher layer services into the size and format of
Edge Device
Physical Network an ATM cell.

Router AAL-1—ATM Adaptation Layer Type 1. AAL functions
Layer 2
Edge Device Network in support of constant bit rate, time-dependent traffic
B C such as voice and video.
Layer 2
Edge Device AAL-2—ATM Adaptation Layer Type 2. This AAL is
Logical Network still undefined by the International Standards bodies. It
Subnet A

Router Subnet C
is a placeholder for variable bit rate video transmission.
Subnet B Router
AAL-3/4—ATM Adaptation Layer Type 3/4. AAL
Figure 12 functions in support of variable bit rate, delay-tolerant
data traffic requiring some sequencing and/or error
detection support. Originally two AAL types, i.e.,
While all the solutions described above enable high
connection-oriented and connectionless, which have
performance communication within a LAN workgroup
been combined.
or subnet, they require traditional network layer routers
to interconnect these workgroups or subnets. This has AAL-5—ATM Adaptation Layer Type 5. AAL functions
significant potential operational and performance in support of variable bit rate, delay-tolerant connection-
problems. The issue of route calculation and network oriented data traffic requiring minimal sequencing or
latency can become important enough to invite better error detection support.
solutions such as MPOA.
ARP—Address Resolution Protocol. The procedures
and messages in a communications protocol which
determine which physical network address (MAC)
corresponds to the IP address in the packet.
ATM—Asynchronous Transfer Mode. A transfer mode
in which the information is organized into cells. It is
asynchronous in the sense that the recurrence of cells
containing information from an individual user is not
necessarily periodic.

22 • MPOA—Multiprotocol over ATM Glossary • 23

B-ISDN—Broadband ISDN. A high-speed network Egress MPC—An MPC in its role at an Egress.
standard (above 1.544 Mbps) that evolved Narrowband Egress MPS—The MPS serving an Egress MPC for a
ISDN with existing and new services with voice, data particular Outbound Flow.
and video in the same network.
ELAN—Emulated LAN.
BUS—Broadcast and Unknown Server.
Emulated LAN—See LANE.
Cell—A unit of transmission in ATM. A fixed-size
frame consisting of a 5-octet header and a 48-octet Flow—A stream of data between two entities. In many
payload. cases the term flow is used instead of the term VCC
because with LLC/SNAP multiplexing, more than one
Cell Header—ATM Layer protocol control informa- pair of entities can communicate over a given VCC.
Forwarding Description—The resolved mapping of
Control Flow—A flow of control packets. a Target to a set of parameters used to set up a
Data Flow—A flow of data packets. Shortcut.
Control Messages—NHRP and MPOA messages, Higher Layers—The software stack above MPOA
and any other non-data message used by an MPOA and LANE, e.g., LLC, bridging, etc.
Component. IETF—Internet Engineering Task Force. The organiza-
Default Path—The hop-by-hop path between tion that provides the coordination of standards and
Routers that a packet would take in the absence of specification development for TCP/IP networking.
shortcuts, as determined by routing protocols. Inbound Flow—Data entering the MPOA System.
DLL—Data Link Layer. Ingress—The point where an Inbound Flow enters
Edge Device—A physical device capable of bridging the MPOA system.
packets between one or more LAN interfaces and one Ingress Cache—The collection of Ingress Cache
or more LAN Emulation Clients. An Edge Device also Entries in an MPC.
contains one or more MPOA Clients allowing it to
forward packets across subnet boundaries using an Ingress Cache Entry—The collection of information
Internetwork Layer protocol. dealing with inbound flows. This information is used to
detect flows that may benefit from a shortcut, and, once
Egress—The point where an Outbound Flow exits the detected, indicates the shortcut VCC to be used and
MPOA System. encapsulation information to be used on the frame.
Egress Cache—The collection of Egress Cache Ingress MPC—The MPC which forwards
Entries in an MPC. Internetwork Layer packets onto ATM from legacy.
Egress Cache Entry—Information describing how Ingress MPS—The MPS serving an Ingress MPC for
Internetwork Layer packets for a particular Outbound a particular traffic flow.
Flow are to be encapsulated and transmitted.

24 • MPOA—Multiprotocol over ATM Glossary • 25

Internetwork Layer—A protocol used to communicate MPC Data ATM Address—The address used to send
across subnet boundaries. E.g., IP, IPv6, IPX, DECnet data to an MPC over an MPOA shortcut. This address
routing, CLNP, AppleTalk DDP, Vines, SNA, etc. may be different from the MPC Control Address.
ION—Internetworking Over NBMA (Non-Broadcast MPC Service Interface—The interface over which
Multi-Access). an MPC communicates with the Higher Layers.
IP—Internet Protocol. Originally developed by the MPOA—Multiprotocol Over ATM.
Department of Defense to support interworking of
MPOA Client—A protocol entity that implements the
dissimilar computers across a network. This protocol
client side of the MPOA protocol.
works in conjunction with TCP and is usually identified
as TCP/IP. A connectionless protocol that operates at MPOA Component—An MPC or MPS.
the network layer (layer 3) of the OSI model. MPOA Host—A host containing one or more LAN
IPX—Novell Internetwork Packet Exchange. A built-in Emulation Clients allowing it to communicate using
networking protocol for Novell Netware. It was derived LAN Emulation. An MPOA Host also contains one or
from the Xerox Network System protocol and operates more MPOA Clients allowing it to transmit packets
at the network layer of the OSI protocol model. across subnet boundaries using an Internetwork Layer
LANE—LAN Emulation. The set of services, function-
al groups and protocols which provide for the emulation MPOA Server—A protocol entity that implements the
of LANS utilizing ATM as a backbone to allow connec- server side of the MPOA protocol. An MPOA Server is
tivity among LAN and ATM attached end stations. co-located with a Router.
LANE Service Interface—The interface over which MPOA System—The set of inter-communicating
a LEC communicates with an MPC. MPOA Clients and MPOA Servers.
LECS—LAN Emulation Server. MPS—MPOA Server.
MAC—Media Access Control. IEEE specifications for NHC—Next Hop Client.
the lower half of the data link layer (Layer 2) that defines NHRP—Next Hop Resolution Protocol.
topology dependent access control protocols for IEEE
LAN specification. NHS—Next Hop Server.

MAN—Metropolitan Area Network. A network designed OSPF—Open Shortest Path First. A link-state routing
to carry data over an area larger than a campus such as algorithm that is used to calculate routes based on the
an entire city and its outlying area. number of routers, transmission speed, delays and route
MARS—Multicast Address Resolution Server.
Outbound Flow—Data exiting the MPOA System
MPC—MPOA Client. from a Shortcut.
MPC Control ATM Address—Each MPC has a PDU—Protocol Data Unit.
single MPC Control ATM Address.

26 • MPOA—Multiprotocol over ATM Glossary • 27

Protocol Data Unit (PDU)—A message sent must include the tag in the MPOA packet header on
between peer protocol entities. each for packets sent to the given MPC for the given
internetwork destination.
PVC—Permanent Virtual Circuit. This is a link with
static route defined in advance, usually by manual setup. TCP—Transmission Control Protocol. Originally
developed by the Department of Defense to support
QoS—Quality of Service.
interworking of dissimilar computers across a network.
RFC—Request for Comment. The development of A protocol which provides end-to-end, connection-
TCP/IP standards, procedures and specifications is oriented, reliable transport layer (layer 4) functions over
done via this mechanism. RFCs are documents that IP controlled networks. TCP performs the following
progress through several development stages, under the functions: flow control between two systems, acknowl-
control of IETF, until they are finalized or discarded. edgments of packets received and end-to-end sequencing
Router—A device allowing communication across of packets.
subnet boundaries using an Internetwork Layer protocol. VC—A communications channel that provides for the
A Router maintains tables for Internetwork layer packet sequential unidirectional transport of ATM cells.
forwarding and may participate in one or more Inter-
VCC—Virtual Channel Connection.
network Layer routing protocols for this purpose. A
Router forwards packets between subnets in accordance WAN—Wide Area Network. This is a network which
with these tables. A Router may contain one or more spans a large geographic area relative to office and
LAN interfaces, one or more LAN Emulation Clients, campus environment of LAN (Local Area Network).
and one or more MPOA Servers. WAN is characterized by having much greater transfer
delays due to laws of physics.
Routing Protocol—A protocol run between Routers
to exchange information used to allow computation of
routes. The result of the routing computation will be
one or more next hops.
SDU—Service Data Unit.
Service Data Unit (SDU)—A message sent between
an entity and its service user or service provider.
Shortcut—An ATM SVC used to forward packets
across subnet boundaries.
SVC—Switched Virtual Channel.
Target—An Internetwork Layer Address to which a
Shortcut is desired.
Tag—A 32 bit opaque pattern that an Egress MPC
may provide to an Ingress MPC. If a Tag is provided to
an Ingress MPC by an Egress MPC, the Ingress MPC

28 • MPOA—Multiprotocol over ATM Glossary • 29


30 • MPOA—Multiprotocol over ATM Notes • 31

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