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Juniper gives Apstra's IBN software a refresh

Juniper Networks is launching the latest version of its Apstra software, version 4.0, to add new multivendor capabilities and improve intent-based networking extensions in the data center.

Juniper acquired Apstra, which claims to have coined the phrase "intent-based networking," in late January for an undisclosed amount. Omdia Principal Analyst James Crawshaw speculates the purchasing price was significantly lower than the $400 million-plus that Juniper paid for Mist and 128 Technologies.

Mike Bushong, vice president of data center for Juniper Networks, says intent-based networking (IBN) is a way to abstract the intent of networking changes in the data center so it doesn't matter which vendor's switch or underlying hardware is being utilized.

"Part of the value prop of Apstra is that it creates this abstraction between the management software and the underlying switches," explains Bushong. "Maintaining a vendor-agnostic insertion from a software perspective gives us a credible path to put on display the things Juniper can do...there's a strategic value in maintaining a multivendor promise, it's not merely a marketing thing."

Version 4.0 of Apstra's software includes additional multivendor capabilities to now support VMware NSX-T 3.0 and Broadcom's Enterprise SONiC, in addition to existing support for data center switching from Juniper, Nvidia (Nvidia Cumulus), Arista Networks and Cisco Systems. The VMware NSX-T 3.0 integration provides customers with the ability to identify where virtual machine resources are located to simplify troubleshooting, for example.

"SONiC is trying to give people common layers to interact with and then the underlying bits might vary. Apstra is the only commercial solution to SONiC management available on the market," says Bushong.

Juniper is also providing Apstra with the Juniper Networks QFX Series switches and SRX Series Services Gateways. In addition, Apstra has new intent extensions and connectivity templates for operators to add a level of customization to "create their own reusable and validated templates." Bushong explains that customers can customize edge policies according to their needs in the data center, such as customized security or traffic management policies.

"With Apstra, we're trying to find the right balance between a rock-solid foundation and customization at the edges that makes sense for customers," says Bushong. "The things that happen at the edge of the data center, the money-making ports, are going to vary from interface to interface, customer to customer, and application to application. With connectivity templates, we're providing the means by which the edge of the network can be tailored to customer-specific requirements."

Customers also have access to an undo button – the "Time Voyager" feature provides them with the capability to quickly back out of changes and return the entire data center to a known good state.

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— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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