Juniper Expands Its Virtual World
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading
Juniper Networks added meat to its software-defined networking (SDN) bones Sunday with the launch of new hardware and software products designed to help carriers automate network management, scale networks, and create new products quickly. Oh, and build clouds.
"We want to enable carriers to use highly-available networks to become cloud builders," Stephen Liu, Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) senior director, service provider marketing, said in a phone interview with Light Reading. "How do we help cloud builders monetize networks? They have a good role as service providers, but how do they expand that?" he added.
Juniper's new offering, announced at Mobile World Congress, builds on its existing SDN portfolio, and is designed to let carriers build highly-customized networks that can boost their ability to create new services and drive new revenues. (See Juniper Opens SDN, Clouds OpenDaylight.)
For automation, Juniper introduced Junos Fusion, a network management system designed to allow service providers to use the Juniper Networks MX series or PTX series routers to manage thousands of endpoints as one. The endpoints can be of any type -- routers, microwave systems, optical devices, wireless platforms -- and be from any vendor, not just Juniper. That tool becomes available during the second quarter.
For scalability, the vendor announced a set of 1 Tbit/s line cards for its PTX Series routers, which double the capacity on offer from that platform. Those new cards will become available in the second quarter.
In addition, Juniper unveiled the NorthStar "traffic engineering controller," which is designed to provide for wide area networks the level of SDN agility made possible within a datacenter. NorthStar, which has been developed using network planning and optimization capabilities brought on board through the acquisition of Wandl late last year, chooses and selects dynamic paths through the network based on detecting congestion in real time and routing around it. (See Juniper Waves Its Wallet at Wandl.)
For service creation, Juniper is offering a range of virtualized functions, namely the Junos Video Focus, Junos Subscriber Aware, Junos Application Aware, and Junos Policy Control, as applications that can reside on MX Series routers, which can act as a Service Control Gateway. Network operators can use this gateway to customize services, based on who is using the network and what they're using it for. These functions will be available in mid-2014.
The vendor also unveiled a server platform, the CSE2000 Carrier Services Engine, that can house applications on a router, in a central office or in a datacenter.
Categorization and legitimization (without cannibalization)
The theme for service providers is monetization, said Liu. "The key to monetization is customization, and the way to make that happen is virtualization," he said, without mentioning standardization, aggrandization or reorganization. "This is where SDN and NFV [network functions virtualization] come into play."
The announcement from Juniper comes on the heels of a reorganization (oh, there it is) plan for the company, which was just announced by the company's new CEO, Shaygan Kheradpir. (See Juniper Bows to Investor Pressure, Refocuses.)
It also comes as Juniper has lost a number of key SDN executives -- namely, Tom Nadeau, Benson Schliesser, and Lloyd Carney -- to Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD). (See Brocade Poaches Key SDN Exec From Juniper and Brocade's Datacenter Push Paying Off.)
In addition, SDN executive Doug Murray left Juniper and took a position as CEO of Big Switch Networks , while former Juniper staffer Joe Palazola joined the same company as VP operations and customer support. (See Murray Leads Big Switch Into Bare Metal Battle and Big Switch CEO: We're Not for Sale.)
Juniper is working to differentiate itself from a pack of companies with similar SDN and NFV offerings, among them major players including Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW), along with startups such as Big Switch and PlumGrid Inc. .
And at times it can be tough to differentiate them: Many pitches sound very much the same.
"That's part of the problem. The vendors are having trouble coming up with differentiated messages," said Current Analysis analyst Glen Hunt. "They're trying to provide the same thing, which is agile service capabilities that respond to business needs."
Juniper differentiates by backing open standards, and also talking about services more than they have in the past, Hunt said. Previously Juniper talked mostly about the benefits of SDN, and now they're trying to put it together with specific examples, such as video and virtualized services to enterprises.
Competitors in this market include Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Cisco, and Huawei. "Everyone is trying to encompass the same thing, but they're all coming out it from a different perspective," Hunt said. "They all meet in the middle."
Juniper's comes from its base as a high performance network provider. It's trying to maintain that image at the same time as promoting the openness of its platform. Juniper is also promoting the ability for third parties, including resellers and technology partners, to contribute.