30 January 2003 -- The Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) Forum and the Frame Relay Forum (FRF) have announced that they plan to merge into one combined organisation.
To be known initially as the MPLS and Frame Relay Alliance, it will bring together service providers, equipment vendors, and software and silicon suppliers from both organisations under a unified industry association. The 53 members of the the MPLS Forum and the 23 members of the Frame Relay Forum will be asked to vote to accept the merger, completion of which is expected by end-March.
"The combination of the MPLS Forum and the FRF will benefit the industry as a whole," said Andrew G Malis, chairman and president of the MPLS Forum. "Frame Relay has enjoyed enormous success as an access protocol, and with the growth of MPLS in service provider core networks, the two have already demonstrated a natural synergy."
"This alliance will foster the interworking of both technologies," said Joe Kimball, chairman and president of the FRF. "Frame Relay serves as an ideal access technology and the integration of Frame Relay with MPLS networks is important to both the end-users and the industry."
"AT&T has long been a key contributor to the development of MPLS technology and, in fact, was the first US carrier to deploy MPLS on Frame Relay four years ago," said Frank Ianna, president of AT&T Network Services. "We envision a future network that will replace today's multiple networks (ATM, Frame Relay, Private Line) with a single, global MPLS-enabled backbone over an intelligent optical IP-based core, with intelligent nodes and multi-protocol/multi-service capabilities at its edges."
"Because Frame Relay is the most important enterprise data service currently offered, and MPLS is the basis for the most universal strategy of investment protection for carriers, a merger of these two forums would be a tremendous boost to the development of a single architecture for voice and data networks in the future," said Tom Nolle, president of CIMI Corp.
"The primary strength of these two forums is that they bring technical specifications and interoperability to the industry," said Steven Taylor, technology analyst at Distributed Networking Associates Inc. "By combining efforts, the two technologies can more easily address the network traffic problems that carriers face today. The FRF pioneered the forum concept and has been remarkably successful in fostering a community for successful cooperation among fierce competitors. This alliance will combine the FRF's historical strength and spirit with the MPLS forum's leading-edge technology advances."
Rick Wilder, principal scientist at nationwide IP service provider Masergy Communications, said: "The merger of these two organisations mirrors Masergy's network architecture, where a multi-service MPLS core carries IP telephony, video, IP VPNs, and Internet traffic, all using Frame Relay access from our customers' sites."
The MPLS Forum is an international industry organisation driving worldwide deployment of multi-vendor MPLS networks, applications and services. It accomplishes this through interoperability initiatives, implementation agreements and education programs.
The Frame Relay Forum was incorporated in May 1991 as an association of vendors, carriers, users, and consultants committed to the education, promotion, and implementation of frame relay in accordance with international standards.
* The MPLS Forum has already forged an alliance with the Metro Ethernet Forum, announced in mid-December 2002, in order to market and promote both technologies.