There is nothing simple about the Grand Canyon! It offers breathtaking views and beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Between the sunset and sunrise, the night sky in the Grand Canyon offers a very clear picture of the Milky Way, one of the best viewing places in the country. With so many stellar objects filling up the sky, it is not easy to know each of the objects you are looking at. I am a big fan of StarWalk app on the iPhone. It uses the phone’s built-in gyroscope and tells you everything you want to know about the star, planet or galaxy you are pointing at. (Gyroscope photo credit - Wikipedia)
Recently, TMCnet invited me as a special guest to their site to discuss key factors that service providers must consider for network packet processing. As we discussed there, one of the nice things about Apple is that they have integrated hardware and software very well for iPhone and iPad. More importantly, they have provided a means to develop custom applications that utilize various components of the underlying hardware. This custom programmability of the hardware device opens up a whole new world. In my case, I could use the gyroscope and take a walk in the night sky! Now if we could expand this integration to the network world, what would it be?
As I mentioned in my earlier post on L4-L7 network services, the various activities such as video, voice, and data that occur every minute in the network demands different services be employed. The image below shows some of them:
The general solution in the networking industry is to deploy an appliance for each of these services. Even though all these services could run on common hardware, they are currently available as appliances of different form factors which complicate service provider networks. Service providers still have to manage these devices independently. This complicates operations in a network with hundreds of devices. How can we address these?
While some of these services are making their way down in the layers, most of these services spread from layers 4-7. Therefore, network router is a great place to host these applications instead of standalone virtualized servers. Routers have data plane and control plane. While data plane can host the applications, a compute intensive service may slow down the router. A better solution is to move these applications to another plane and manage them from the router interface. This plane should provide the following:
To make life a tad bit easier for service providers, Juniper Networks® announced its solution JunosV™ App Engine today. We created a virtual plane that can host both Juniper and 3rd party applications. There is no need to port your existing applications to Junos®. Applications that run on virtual servers can now run on our router. You can integrate these applications to the Juniper router CLI for centralized management. In essence, we have virtualized the router.
Just like Apple apps benefit from the hardware, your applications can benefit from the intelligence offered by various layers of the router. As an added benefit, service providers can now run packet sampling, steering and altering applications along with regular L4-7 services as I discussed with TMCnet. With JunosV App Engine, service providers now have the ability to run both traffic control services and network services. How cool is that?
You may also be interested in the benefits of applications vs. appliances.
Exploring the vision for the networking industry and the issues shaping its future.
Vice President, Business Strategy and Marketing
Software Solutions Division