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Q&A With David Yen, EVP and GM of Juniper's Fabric and Switching Technologies Business Group

by BPLewisJNPR on ‎09-15-2010 02:20 PM

As you know, we’ve been advocating over the past year a New Network vision that includes new technologies, partnerships, and even a venture fund to get tomorrow’s network innovations moving forward at a more rapid pace.


Recently, I was able to sit down with David Yen, Executive VP and General Manager of Juniper’s  Fabric and Switching Technologies Business Group, who shared his perspective on Juniper’s 3-2-1 architecture and what it means for the future of data centers. This is the first part of our conversation; I’ll be sharing the second part in the weeks ahead. Hope you enjoy David’s insight.


Q: It’s been a busy year at Juniper. As the head of our Fabric & Switching Technologies Business, can you sum up what Juniper has laid out there for the public?

A: One major theme we’ve been advocating since our ‘New Network’ launch in October 2009 is the realization that technology has evolved so much in just about every facet of the IT industry – from the mega data centers to consumer. It's time for a new network to fulfill the promise of today's technology while fostering future innovation. And we believe the most important thing—the first step of this process, particularly as it applies to data centers—is to simplify the data center. Then you can control your cost. You can scale. And you have a much better foundation to automate the network.


Q: Let’s talk a bit about the data center. What has fundamentally changed there in the past few years?

A: For decades the perennial challenge for data center managers has been to strike a balance between the user experience and the economics. With a new network, you actually have a chance to enhance both measures. As everybody has seen in the last decade or so, there have been very significant changes in the data center, particularly on the application, user services and programming style sides. Over the last 10 years, instead of the popular client-server model, the work, the application, has evolved to the Web 2.0 style. You tend to touch on a number of applications written by different people, possibly running on different servers.


With the service-oriented architecture time to market, people no longer develop their applications completely from scratch. Furthermore, more modern applications have fundamentally changed the workload in the data center. In the client-server era, typically people used very capable UNIX servers to run particular application services. And that particular service may be rendered by various processes within the server and dealing with one or maybe more databases also contained, controlled by the server. So the network traffic in the data center primarily ran “north and south,” between the server and the serving client.


Now look at the data center architecture, which today is primarily a multi-layer Ethernet switching tree structure, where at the bottom or “south” of the tree are the servers, while clients come from the top of the tree so traffic is north and south. With the advent of Web 2.0, the service-oriented architecture, along with the increasingly capable x86 processors that commoditize the server hardware, and also the popular practice of designating a particular server to run a particular application, now, a typical application in the data center may interact with several servers and deal with one or more databases. Each of these databases is probably created by different people for different purposes and they just aggregate all these to provide the services. As the workgroup grows, this tree gets bigger and more complex.


Q: So the data traffic patterns are shifting and data center networks have yet to catch up to this?

A: Well, the interesting thing here is that all traffic that was previously contained within the server now gets completely exposed to the outside of the server and storage. That puts a lot of new types of stress on the data center network. Furthermore, if you refer to this tree-like structure, it's no longer just north and south traffic between the so-called server and the client. Today, as much as 75 percent of network traffic in the data center now involves interactions among servers and storage, so it becomes an “east-west” traffic pattern.


Factor in server consolidation, data center consolidation, new types of content service providers, and cloud computing…and the data center becomes bigger. When the data center gets bigger, interconnecting all the data center resources becomes huge. This traffic pattern change and data center resource increase causes the tree-like structure used in the data center over the last 23 years to all of a sudden become very slow.


Q: Why is it too slow? 

A: Because every layer of switching introduces latency.  With a tree-like structure and the need to connect more data center resources, layers are added to connect switches which themselves are connecting server and storage resources.  And with the tree-like structure, when sending packets from one server to another, you have to travel all the way up the tree and back down again—in other words, traffic has to travel north and south first in order to move east and west.  For east-west traffic, this north-south path introduces extra hops and delays, which are undesirable.  Imagine what that means in an equity-transaction environment where each delay or bit of latency has a financial impact.


If you look at the tree-like structure in the data center, when you have layers of these switching boxes composing this whole tree, it becomes extremely complicated. At most of the major enterprise data centers you visit today, frequently you will find there are at least four or five switching layers. We have seen customers with as many as seven layers of switching. It becomes very complicated to manage. And furthermore, it obviously is very expensive, both financially and also in terms of power.


So it’s with these drawbacks and challenges in mind that we looked at how to enhance the data center network architecture to improve the experience and economics for our customers.


In our next post, David and I will discuss Juniper’s take on the data center and how our approach is both different from our competitors and better for customers.


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About the Author
  • Prior to Juniper acquisition, Ankur was the Founder and CEO of Contrail Systems Inc - a pioneer in standards based network virtualization and scale-out networking software. Ankur has over 15 years of experience in building world-class networking products and leading high performance teams. Prior to Contrail, Ankur served as Chief Technology Officer and VP of Engineering at Aruba Networks, where he played critical roles in the rapid expansion of team, products, and global businesses. Before Aruba, Ankur helped drive Juniper’s initial entry into and expansion of the Ethernet Switching market. Ankur received his MSEE from Stanford University & BSEE from the University of Southern California.
  • I am an experienced leader in the Information Experience (iX) industry. For over 20 years, I've led information organizations at Juniper, Microsoft, Cisco, and Oracle to deliver quality technical documentation and information products to customers and partners across the globe.
  • Bob Dix currently serves as the Vice President of Government Affairs & Critical Infrastructure Protection for Juniper Networks. During his career, he has served in senior leadership roles in industry and government, including serving as Staff Director for the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census during the 108th Congress. He represents Juniper on the Industry Executive Point of Contact for the President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee ( NSTAC ), where he chaired the Cybersecurity Collaboration Task Force in 2009. He served as Chair of the Information Technology Sector Coordinating Council ( IT SCC ) from 2008 – 2010 and currently remains a member of the Executive Committee. Mr. Dix was elected in May, 2011 as Chair of the Partnership for Critical Infrastructure Security ( PCIS ). He also serves on the National Security Task Force for the U. S. Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the AFCEA Cyber Security Committee and Chairs the Supply Chain Assurance Subcommittee for TechAmerica. Additionally, Dix has actively worked to insure and coordinate private sector participation and collaboration with the National Exercise Program, intended to test our nation’s preparedness and resiliency. He served as Chair of the National Private Sector Working Group for National Level Exercise 2011 and 2010. In 2007 and 2009, Dix was honored with a prestigious Federal 100 Award, and was recognized in March, 2010 as the recipient of the annual FCW Industry Eagle Award. Dix also served as a local government elected official in Northern Virginia for 12 years and in his spare time coaches AAU/Travel girls basketball.
  • Jennifer Blatnik is vice president of cloud, security and enterprise portfolio marketing at Juniper Networks with focus on enterprise deployments of security, routing, switching, and SDN products, as well as cloud solutions. She has more than 20 years of experience helping enterprises solve network security challenges. Before joining Juniper, Jennifer served multiple roles at Cisco Systems, Inc., including directing product management for security technologies aimed at small to medium enterprises, as well as supporting managed services, cloud service architectures and go-to-market strategies. She holds a B.A. in Computer Science from University of California, Berkeley.
  • Jerry oversees all aspects of OpenLab which serves as a catalyst to spark the development of new innovative software applications or solutions that leverage the power of SDN/network programmability and intelligence. OpenLab is unique within Juniper and with its polished facility, globally accessible lab, and educational programs – such as the SDN “hackathons,” it serves as a tool for customer, partners, and academia. Prior to this position, Jerry led the development, management and marketing of the company’s strategic partnerships for video/unified communications, optical networking, and content/media delivery. In addition to handling the day-to-day oversight of the partnerships, he established new cross-partner go-to-market processes to drive and manage joint field opportunities. Before joining Juniper, Jerry led the Lucent Technologies application hosting/service provider marketing organization. He has over 25 years of experience in the data networking field with a focus on strategic alliance development, marketing, and technical field support. Jerry possesses a BS degree in Computer Science from St. John’s University in New York. He is active as a Juniper ambassador within the technology and academic community which includes advisory board positions with both NJIT and Rutgers in New Jersey.
  • Kevin Walker is the Security Chief Technology and Strategy Officer for Juniper’s Development and Innovation (JDI) organization. He is responsible for driving the security strategy both internally within Juniper, and externally with investors, partners, influencers, and customers. He provides the guidance required for JDI to conceive, develop and create momentum for industry-leading security solutions. Working closely with the Security Engineering team, Walker identifies the opportunities for improved security, growth, and innovation to deliver the scalable, reliable, and compliant security architecture needed in today’s security landscape. Before joining Juniper, Walker was VP and Assistant Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at He has served as a Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), Chief Security Strategist and Director of Information Security across a number of notable companies including Intuit, Cisco, Symantec and VERITAS Software. With over twenty-five years in various computer science and information technology disciplines, focusing on enterprise applications, network design, and information security, Walker possesses research and engineering expertise across of range of technologies including networking protocols, securing applications at the atomic level, cryptography, and speech biometrics.
  • As Juniper’s Senior Vice President of Strategy and Product Line Management, Kevin Hutchins is responsible for defining and enabling Juniper’s strategy from company vision into product execution. This includes driving the company’s inorganic growth through strategic partnerships, venture investments and acquisitions/divestitures. In addition, he is responsible for driving key strategic imperatives, including Juniper’s software strategy and transformation. Hutchins joined Juniper in 2010 as Vice President, Portfolio Management & Business Operations for Juniper’s Development & Innovation team where he led business planning, portfolio rationalization, new product introduction and execution of strategic programs across Juniper’s portfolio of routing, switching and security products.
  • Mike Marcellin is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, leading the global marketing team responsible for marketing Juniper’s product and services portfolio and stewarding the brand, driving preference for Juniper in the market, training our partners and account teams, and developing a differentiated information experience for our customers. Before joining the global marketing organization, Marcellin led business strategy and marketing for Juniper’s industry-leading portfolio of high-performance routing, switching and security products. Prior to joining Juniper in 2010, Marcellin served as Vice President of Global Managed Solutions for Verizon, where he oversaw product development and marketing of its managed IP networking, hosting, security and IT solutions for businesses around the world. He also served as Vice President of Global Product Marketing for Verizon Business, executive director of Verizon Business’ IP and Ethernet portfolio as well as leading the company’s eCRM marketing division. Marcellin began his career with MCI in 1994. Marcellin is a Board Member for the Telecommunications Industry Association and a Board Member of US Ignite, an NSF-sponsored initiative. Marcellin holds two patents and was a Rodman Scholar at the University of Virginia, where he received a bachelor of science degree with distinction in systems engineering. He is based in Sunnyvale, California.
  • Masum Mir is Vice President of Product, Solutions & Technical Marketing at Juniper Networks. Masum is responsible for the Switching product line, network management product line and optical technologies. Beside product leadership Masum also leads cloud strategy and solution architecture. Masum has 19 years of experience in communication and data networking industry with Expertise in Ethernet Switching, Data Center, Carrier Ethernet, Routing, overlay & network segmentation, Fabric technology & photonics technology.
  • Paul Obsitnik is Vice President of Service Provider Marketing for Juniper Networks Platform Systems Division (PSD), responsible for the marketing of Juniper’s portfolio of high performance routing, switching, and data center fabric products to Service Providers globally. Paul's team is responsible for marketing strategy, product marketing, go-to-market planning, and competitive analysis worldwide for the Service Provider segment. Obsitnik has extensive experience in marketing, sales and business development positions with a proven track record in creating technology markets. He has served in senior marketing and sales management positions at several companies including BridgeWave Communications, ONI Systems, NorthPoint Communications and 3Com. Paul holds a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Electrical Engineering from the United States Naval Academy and a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Graduate School of Business. Obsitnik is based in Sunnyvale, California.
  • Pradeep Sindhu founded Juniper Networks in February 1996, and has held several central roles in shaping the company. He currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Board and Chief Technology Officer, and is responsible for the company's technical roadmap as well as day-to-day design and development of future products. He served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for eight months when he founded the company. During that time, he played a central role in the architecture, design, and development of the M40 router.
  • Rami Rahim is Chief Executive Officer of Juniper Networks and a member of the company’s Board of Directors. Rahim was appointed CEO in November 2014. Rahim began his Juniper career in early 1997, as employee No. 32, and worked as an engineer on Juniper’s first breakthrough product, the M40 core router. Rahim has progressed through a series of technical and leadership roles at Juniper, applying his engineering acumen to the design and development of Juniper’s industry-leading product portfolio. He most recently served as Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Juniper Development and Innovation (JDI) organization, overseeing the company’s entire product and technology portfolio. His responsibilities included driving strategy, development and business growth for routing, switching, security, silicon technology, and the Junos operating system. Other leadership positions held over the years include: Executive Vice President and General Manager of Platform Systems Division for routing and switching, Senior Vice President of the Edge and Aggregation Business Unit (EABU), and Vice President and General Manager of EABU.
  • As Chief Customer Officer, Vince Molinaro is responsible for driving the strategic and operational elements of the Sales, Marketing, Partners, Services and Support functions at Juniper Networks. He leads a global organization of more than 3,500 professionals that includes direct and indirect sales, systems engineering, advanced technologies and field operations. Molinaro brings more than 25 years of professional experience in engineering, product management, marketing, sales and operations to his worldwide role. He joined Juniper in 2009 and led the strategy and go-to-market execution for the company’s global service provider business. He was named EVP, Worldwide Sales in 2013 before assuming his current role in February 2014. Prior to joining Juniper, Molinaro held senior leadership positions at a number of technology companies including Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, Alcatel-Lucent and Internap Network Services. He has extensive domestic and international experience having lived and managed large organizations throughout Europe and the U.S. Molinaro holds a bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering from Boston University and a master of science degree in electrical engineering from University of Bridgeport. He is based out of the Juniper Networks facility in New Jersey, home of OpenLab, The Junos and SDN Center for Innovation.
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