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Juniper SDN switches aimed at enterprise clouds

Juniper Networks has introduced a line of SDN switches that give corporations a choice in open and proprietary technology for building public and private clouds.

Juniper Networks' latest switches and updates to its software-defined networking (SDN) products reveal an aggressive strategy of supporting open technology to win deals with corporations building public and private clouds.

The company introduced this week a line of spine switches called the QFX 10000 and improvements to its PTX Series router and SRX5000 Series Services Gateways firewall. Juniper launched the new products and upgrades during an Innovation Showcase event at its Sunnyvale, Calif., headquarters.

QFX first with Q5 chip

The QFX 10000 is the first of Juniper's data center switches powered by the company's Q5 processor. The line, which will be rolled out in stages starting in the second quarter, is built to span traditional data centers and enterprises constructing private or public clouds.

Juniper has developed the line to provide as-needed scalability and port density. Customers can easily upgrade a 40-gigabit Ethernet (GbE) switch to 100 GbE. Total system capacity is as high as 96 Tbps, Juniper said.

"The QFX 10000 is groundbreaking, game-changing technology that takes advantage of their move into their own chipset," Jason Gress, president of systems integrator InterVision Systems Technologies, said. "If their solution is ready for SDN and the software-defined data center, I think that's going to give them a tremendous advantage in the marketplace."

InterVision partners with Juniper and rivals Arista Networks and Cisco.

The performance of the QFX 10000 is "top of the market," Gress said. In addition, Juniper is making the right moves in developing the switch's Junos operating system, so it supports the open software that customers want in moving to SDN and cloud architectures.

Juniper wants to differentiate itself from Cisco and other rivals by providing better integration with open source SDN software. How that strategy will play out remains to be seen. By contrast, the combined customer base for hardware and software that comprise Cisco's proprietary SDN architecture, called the Application Centric Infrastructure, doubled in the three months ending in January to 1,700, according to the company.

Juniper touts support for cloud orchestration platform OpenStack, and says its switches can also integrate with OpenFlow, a protocol that lets a server tell network switches where to send packets, and OpenDaylight, an SDN controller born from an industry consortium founded by Cisco, IBM, Juniper, Microsoft and others.

Juniper has its own SDN controller within its Contrail software, which creates a network virtualization overlay on top of a physical network to enable service automation within a highly virtualized data center. The company also provides an open source version called OpenContrail.

With the QFX line, Juniper also introduced a version of its Junos Fusion network management software tailored for data centers. Juniper unveiled a version for communication service providers (CSPs) last year.

Balancing open, proprietary technology

Giving customers a long list of options in proprietary and open technology is necessary to win deals as companies migrate to SDN, a movement that is underway today mostly within the data centers of CSPs, large cloud providers and Wall Street banks.

The shift to SDN has fueled the development of open source, spawning efforts such as the Open Compute Project, where organizations like Facebook and Microsoft design and build their networking technology to share with other OCP members.

These efforts are having an impact on the networking market. Within five years, open source gear could account for 30% of switch spending, from 6% today, according to Infonetics Research.

Juniper Chief Executive Rami Rahim, who was named CEO in November following the sudden resignation of Shaygan Kheradpir, said customers choosing to use open source technology still need Juniper products.

This is particularly true in the high-performance layers of the network at the core of the data center or the wide-area network.

"Software is going to play an increasingly important role, but for the foreseeable future, there will always be parts of the networking problem that can only be solved with both hardware and software [from Juniper]," Rahim told TechTarget.

Firewalls and routers

For the SRX5000 Series Services Gateways, Juniper released Express Path, which is software developed to boost throughput, reduce latency and boost the session scalability of physical and virtual SRX (vSRX) firewalls.

Improving performance in the use of vSRX will be useful to Expedient Data Centers, a Pittsburgh-based national provider of managed data center services.

The company deploys the firewall in each customer's environment, using a single template, according to John White, Expedient's director of product strategy.

"All we have to do is create these virtual firewalls over and over again," he said. A customer's unique security policies are then added to each firewall.

In addition to the new switch and upgraded firewall, Juniper boosted the performance of the PTX series router with custom silicon the vendor calls ExpressPlus. The chip is capable of performing 1.5 billion filtered operations per second and scale up to 500 Gbps, which is four times the performance of the previous Express chipset.

The PTX, which is a backbone router for CSPs, combines IP and MPLS functionality, transport integration and SDN programmability, according to Juniper. The PTX 5000 has a total capacity of 24 Tbps and can be used with the company's NorthStar SDN controller. The companion PTX 3000, for space-constrained environments, has a total capacity of 8 Tbps.

Next Steps

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Understanding the application tier of an SDN architecture

Dig Deeper on Network hardware and SDN

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Does Juniper have a winning combination of open and proprietary technology for software-defined networking?
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Our organization believes that Juniper has a winning combination of open and proprietary technology for software-defined networking. Juniper's technology also offers deep integration with cloud service providers, which greatly enhances the networking capabilities. Our organization uses Juniper's services for both internal and external networking. We also like Juniper's wide ranging partnerships, which include regular upgrades, real-time monitoring and constant networking care and support. In our experience, the open coding as well as proprietary technology is just the right combination for our needs.
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How would you compare Juniper with Cisco? Does the former provide a better balance between open and proprietary technology?
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This is a tricky time for networking gear manufacturers. The whole point of SDN is to use simple, fast devices that can be configured flexibly.
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Right, but as we know, there is nothing simple or fast in technology.
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