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Juniper Bets Big on White Box & NFV

Juniper has been ambivalent on virtual networks and white boxes -- until now.

The company boldly renewed its commitment to its proprietary architecture in March, with a new router, switches and software all based on the company's custom silicon and designs.

But since then, Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) has also taken steps this year to embrace open networks.

Juniper threw ambivalence to the wind Tuesday and fully embraced white box networking, separating its Junos operating system from underlying hardware, and introducing NFV hardware and software platforms.

The company said Tuesday it's "disaggregating Junos from its underlying hardware" -- meaning they'll run independently of each other. You'll be able to run the Junos operating sytem on other vendors' hardware, and run other software on Junos hardware switches.

"We want anyone else's operating system to run on our hardware, and anyone's hardware to run our software," Mike Marcellin, Juniper senior VP and CMO, tells Light Reading.

Juniper switches are Linux-based and run the Open Compute Project open source Open Network Install Environment (ONIE), which makes them able to run other vendors' operating systems -- including Big Switch Networks , Cumulus Networks , and Pica8 Inc. , as well as open source apps, including firewall, analytics engines, deep packet inspection (DPI) and automation tools such as Puppet and Chef. "The customer can run the DevOps model and deploy the platform as if it were a server," Marcellin says.

Junos OS, meanwhile, can now run on the x86 platform -- including Juniper's own OCX1100 switch -- and is being revised to run on other white boxes. Juniper will also work with other vendors interested in supporting Junos.

As part of its support for disaggregated Junos, Juniper introduced the QFX5200 access switch, which runs the disaggregated software and supports speeds of 1 Gbit/s to 100 Gbit/s, including the emerging 25- and 50-GbE standards.

All the major networking vendors are grappling with changes driven by virtual networking and New IP. They're taking different paths.

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Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) CEO Chuck Robbins says he expects white boxes to coexist on Cisco networks. (See Cisco's Robbins Foresees White Box Coexistence.)

And Arista Networks Inc. CEO Jayshree Ullal said in an earnings call in August that the company doesn't see demand for white boxes from its customers. (See Arista Sees Weak Demand for White Box Switches.)

As for NFV: Juniper on Tuesday launched its NFV solution, which it calls Cloud CPE, which includes Contrail Service Orchestration software, to be available next month. That software provides Management and Orchestration (MANO) to coordinate and provide chaining for VNFs. "It allows the service provider to drag and drop service creation," Marcellin says.

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