Packet core

Juniper's Falcon Takes Flight

Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) is officially launching its mobile packet core, the long awaited Project Falcon, on Monday at Mobile World Congress, putting an emphasis on open software development.

Falcon's real name is MobileNext, and it's implemented in software on Juniper's MX 3D routers. It includes the MobileNext Broadband Gateway, which can play roles such as Long Term Evolution (LTE)'s packet gateway and serving gateway. There's also the MobileNext Policy Manager, which handles LTE's Policy and Charging Rules Function (PCRF).

These items will work with the MobileNext Control Gateway -- a standalone appliance (meaning it's not on the MX 3D router), also being announced Monday, that handles the mobile core's signaling plane.

One key to these pieces will be Junos Space, the program that lets other companies develop software for Juniper's Junos operating system. With Space in place, Juniper is calling MobileNext the world's first open mobile core.

Separately, Juniper is announcing the Service Delivery Gateway, which does reside on the MX 3D and handles functions including network address translation, firewalling, subscriber awareness and load balancing. At Mobile World Congress, Juniper intends to announce some customers for the Service Delivery Gateway, says Kittur Nagesh, senior director of marketing for mobility and security.

Juniper doesn't have any customer announcements for MobileNext; in fact, the technology is not yet deployed in any carrier network, Nagesh says. A previously mentioned beta test was happening in a carrier lab.

Why this matters
The big-picture importance of Falcon comes from the acquisition of Starent by Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), because Starent was assumed to have been Juniper's partner for the mobile core. Even though Juniper claims Falcon has been in development for years, the Starent deal temporarily turned the mobile network into a Juniper liability. Now, Juniper has its response.

One key aspect to MobileNext is its openness. Juniper is betting that the IP network -- especially in the mobile case -- is primed for an open environment, and all of its software is being tailored accordingly. Clearly, this is how Juniper hopes to make its mark in mobile.

For more
A young person's guide to Project Stratus (and to Juniper's software obsession):

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

bergea 12/5/2012 | 5:12:56 PM
re: Juniper's Falcon Takes Flight

Juniper Networks is finally unveiling its long awaited MobileNext mobile packet core solution at Mobile World Congress, and the company needs to convincingly present the value proposition for an “open” core independent of the RAN.  Although the solution will initially be judged by the performance of the hardware and software platforms relative to competitors, Juniper needs a leading mobile operator as a reference customer to validate its offerings. 


Several operators have recently selected multiple RAN vendors to deploy their advanced 3G and 4G networks, and they would clearly benefit from using a common, open packet core to ensure a seamless customer experience.  Let’s see which operator is the first to select MobileNext to demonmstrate the value of a truly open IP mobile core network environment. 


Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:12:51 PM
re: Juniper's Falcon Takes Flight

It's going to be interesting to see how far Juniper's "open network" idea goes. I like the sound of it, but whether it's something telcos will go for, who knows.  If nothing else, it gives Juniper a different angle to talk about.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:12:49 PM
re: Juniper's Falcon Takes Flight

Scott - That would have been my guess, too, but -- Juniper has been adamant for a while now that Falcon is a years-in-the-making internal job.  The implication is that they were working on it even when Starent was supposedly going to be their LTE core partner.  (Note that I said implication.)

It's possible there's some partner-developed software in there, done under the auspices of Junos Space. The Service Delivery Gateway is like that, for instance - it uses some software written by Openwave. (Hoping to mention that in a router roundup from MWC today.)

With the pre-MWC crunch, I didn't have much time to grill Juniper about things like this. Your question's a good one, so maybe I should follow up. Thanks!

scottdTBR 12/5/2012 | 5:12:49 PM
re: Juniper's Falcon Takes Flight

Hey Craig,

Did you get a sense as to whether or not the Policy Manager and Control Gateway are Juniper-manufactured products? I'm guessing they're OEM

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