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Routing

Juniper Doubles Down on Custom Silicon

SUNNYVALE, Calif. -- Juniper Innovation Showcase -- After stepping on a rake and hitting itself in the face last year, Juniper gathered press and analysts together on Wednesday in an effort to show the company is unbloodied and unbruised.

As part of their efforts to signal that the good times are back, Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) executives introduced a range of new products and capabilities, namely: the Converged Supercore Architecture, a service provider core IP network product based on the PTX core router that boasts "expanded software-based traffic optimisation" courtesy of the company's NorthStar Controller; the QFX10000, a new line of spine switches along with enhanced Junos Fusion configuration and management software; and ExpressPath service capabilities for Juniper's physical and virtual SRX firewalls.

Additionally, Juniper executives declared triumphant loyalty to its custom silicon in an industry where merchant silicon is gaining traction.

The Converged Supercore platform and updated PTX Series router line cards are based on new ExpressPlus custom silicon, while the QFX10000 switches use the vendor's own new Q5 ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit).

"We're not opposed to merchant silicon," said Jonathan Davidson, EVP and GM of Juniper Development and Innovation. "If merchant silicon was able to resolve [the challenges] our customers are facing around growth, scale and performance, we would use it. But quite frankly it doesn't."

Juniper says its new ExpressPlus custom silicon supports full IP routing and MPLS, improves performance fourfold and triples efficiency compared with the previous generation Express chipset. It enables 500Gbit/s throughput on the new PTX5000 and is 400 Gigabit Ethernet-ready, which means that when the 400 GigE standard is ratified Juniper will be able to use the same chip in a 400 GigE platform, Davidson said.

The QFX10000 spine switches also use custom silicon, the Q5. This, said Davidson, will enable seamless migration from 10Gbit/s to 40Gbit/s to 100Gbit/s Ethernet in a fixed 2RU form factor, while also offering the highest 100GigE density in the market today. The new switches include two chassis-based platforms -- an 8-slot and 16-slot -- that, Davidson claims, offers 2.5 times greater density than competitive switches from Arista Networks Inc. .

When Torryon Coleman, senior director for Cox Communications Inc. business and backbone network operations, took the stage, though, it was the need for automated management that he wanted to talk about.

"We went through an unexpected rough patch maybe five years ago. I characterize it as the traffic monster," Coleman said. Cox saw 50-60% growth year-over-year. Juniper provided Cox with improved hardware to keep up with the load.


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"There were times, I'll be honest with you, I would go home and my teenagers would be on the Internet watching YouTube, and it would be frustrating," Coleman said. "They were the monster."

Automation helps service customers better, countering the increased complexity that is caused by scaling the network, Coleman noted. He compared automating management to using spellcheck in email, noting that an error in a CLI [command line interface instruction] can create huge problems.

Automation is necessary as network operators need to do more during maintenance windows, Coleman said. Business customers demand uptime "and kids don't go to sleep at night -- they stay online," Coleman added.

"We're trying to get to the point where we have self-healing networks," Coleman said, "where the network knows the fault and it self-corrects. 'You had some packet loss going on, we routed around it, and it's good.'"

Packet and optical are interdependent and need to be managed together, Coleman noted. "You're treating them as individuals but they are actually one ecosystem." Cox hopes to adopt packet-optical technology in the near future.

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Mitch Wagner 3/16/2015 | 12:52:00 PM
Re: Self-healing networks! "Self-healing" is an old marketing buzzword in IT, dating back to the 90s at least. I've actually never heard it explained as well as that Cox guy did. Previously, I'd just dismissed the phrase as marketing baloney. 
TomNolle 3/13/2015 | 8:41:25 PM
Re: The Challenge is "Why Not a Management Overlay" Then, if the hardware is not especially suited for management by the software, it's just another big iron story.
mhhf1ve 3/13/2015 | 7:41:56 PM
Self-healing networks! Self healing networks sound really nice, but how far out are they? Obviously, there will still be reasons to roll trucks out, but if faults can be detected and prevented/solved with software, that would be amazing.
Mitch Wagner 3/13/2015 | 11:14:52 AM
Re: Yum! "Meat cloud" sounds like a Bennigans appetizer. 
Mitch Wagner 3/13/2015 | 11:10:17 AM
Re: The Challenge is "Why Not a Management Overlay" TomNolle - These were two separate issues. The hardware provides improved performance, the software manages the hardware. Juniper is not trying to suggest that you need the hardware to have service automation. 
dwx 3/12/2015 | 9:55:31 AM
Re: The Challenge is "Why Not a Management Overlay" I think everything yesterday was focused on new hardware and its capabilities.  Juniper has their own NFV/orchestration solutions using Contrail, but that wasn't the focus.   The automation piece has more to do with extending the DevOps interfaces to the new hardware so you can use tools like Netconf/YANG (Junos Fusion), Puppet, Ansible, etc. to manage the devices versus human interaction.  
TomNolle 3/12/2015 | 8:47:01 AM
The Challenge is "Why Not a Management Overlay" The challenge for Juniper is to address why all the operational improvements can't be made from above through NFV or simply management/opeations changes.  You don't need new hardware to have service automation.
PaulERainford 3/12/2015 | 7:26:10 AM
Yum! 'The meat cloud' - that's an interesting concept. Not sure it's an altogether pleasant one. Could be a Frank Zappa album though.
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