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Juniper Primes Its Edge Router Lineup

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto
10/11/2012
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Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) has unveiled a stream of enhancements for its MX line of edge routers lately, releasing bigger versions but also stressing the ability to run more services from the routers.

Until now, the MX 960, which fits one-third of a telecom rack, has been the biggest member of the MX family. On Thursday, though, the company is bringing out a 20-slot, full-rack version of the box, named the MX 2020 3D Universal Edge Router. There's also a 10-slot MX 1010 that appears to take up a little more than half a rack.

The MX 2020 is theoretically ready to support 800 Gbit/s per slot and a total capacity of 80 Tbit/s. You can't use it all yet; fitting a 100Gbit/s interface, the biggest for the MX 3D series so far, in each of those 20 slots multiplies out to 2 Tbit/s.

Juniper is also adding the JunosV App Engine, an x86-based card designed to house services. Juniper envisions customers and software vendors eventually writing applications for -- or porting them to -- these cards.

Juniper is also adding support for the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Path Computation Element standard, which gives the router the ability to set up network tunnels. Juniper sees this being useful between data centers, for example.

Why this matters
Combined with last week's set of edge-services announcements, Juniper is trying to show that it's beefing up the MX line's ability to act as the point of origin for services.

Every major vendor puts services on an edge router, but the practice is becoming more crucial to vendor competitiveness. "A lot of operators, and some of them are already doing it, are going to single platforms. They're going to a single vendor for their IP edge routers," says Michael Howard, principal analyst with Infonetics Research Inc.

That's why it's an important step when routers start assuming additional functions. One example from Juniper's announcements last week would be the Junos Content Encore, a content delivery network (CDN) card based on technology acquired with Ankeena.

The ability to write applications for the router isn't new, but the JunosV App Engine should make it a lot easier. "Previously, you had to have some fairly deep hooks into Junos to develop on the platform," says Mike Marcellin, senior vice president of strategy and marketing.

As for the rack-sized MX, it's the usual act of giving carriers confidence in a future roadmap for scaling. "The most important thing here is that we have developed a level of future-proofness," says Rami Rahim, senior vice president of Juniper's edge and aggregation business unit. [Editor's note: Future proofness? Oh my goodness...]

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— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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