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The Great Circle of Life

by Juniper Employee on ‎02-28-2011 03:12 PM - last edited on ‎05-09-2011 10:13 AM by Administrator Administrator

After 30 years in this industry, I am starting to detect a pattern.  Every so often, a new product comes to the market that forever changes the industry—and changes what is possible. This is a rare event; yet in my career, I have had the privilege to personally participate in four such episodes. 


The first time I was a hardware product manager at HP when we rolled out the world's first RISC microprocessor-based server.  It was seven times faster than a DEC VAX 11/780 at a quarter of the cost.  It was my job to convince customers to implement something called RISC into their data centers—ironically the most risk-averse part of the IT infrastructure.  More than once, I had to explain that "really, it is spelled with a C, not a K.”


At the time, RISC was a revolutionary new architecture based on the concept that less is more.  By simplifying the instruction set, it was possible to shrink more of the computer system onto a single piece of silicon. The result was dramatic.  Whereas the VAX implemented the system across 13 separate boards interconnected via a bus, we were able to implement the main parts of the server on a single board.  Faster, cheaper and more reliable, the child of Joel Birnbaum's powerful vision was a remarkable achievement.  It forever changed the way computers were built.  It was the logical path forward. 


At the time I predicted that within 10 years all microprocessors would be RISC designs.  And you know, I was pretty close.  With the delivery of Pentium, Intel moved to RISC in 1993.  Today the lone holdout is the “Itanic” (Itanium) processor, which implements a Very Long Instruction Word (VLIW) architecture; based upon its market share, it missed the mark.


The second breakthrough I witnessed firsthand occurred when I was at the Business Systems division of Cray Research.  This breakthrough was the ability to aggregate many RISC microprocessors to build a coherent, shared memory server—SMP (symmetrical multi-processor) using technology from Sun Microsystems.  The magic was based upon two remarkable technologies.  The first was the Solaris operating system and its multi-threading design that allowed multiple software threads to be processed in parallel. Thank you, Rob Gingle.


The second technology that made SMP work was the system interconnect which, in itself, had two remarkable dimensions. First was the fact that, in an age when most system buses were circuit-switched, this interconnect used packets.  The original instantiation of this concept was a wonderful collaboration between Pradeep Sindhu from Xerox PARC and David Yen of Sun.  The second dimension was the fact that this interconnect was a point-to-point design rather than a bus.  This was the magic the boys from Cray brought to the table.


The result was what became the Sun E10000 server, a remarkable product that allowed up to 64 SPARC (RISC) processors to be applied to real world workloads.  It arrived just in time to help many a customer convert to and scale their SAP and Oracle applications in advance of Y2K.  By the way, Pradeep went on to apply his knowledge of packet switching to start Juniper Networks, where they revolutionized router design and rescued the Internet.  A decade later, Dave Yen joined Pradeep at Juniper to once again rock the world, but more on that later.


The third breakthrough in which I participated was when Sun shrunk the SMP server onto a single piece of silicon.  As the inexorable march of Moore's law delivered ever denser microprocessors, Sun realized it could shrink the SMP concept into a single, multi-core, multi-threaded microprocessor.  We called this breakthrough technology CMT (chip multi-threading).  With eight cores and four threads per core, the "Niagara" processor was the brainchild of Les Kohn.  One interesting aspect is that within that processor there is a point-to-point interconnect that ties the cores together with the memory.  Today the other processor vendors follow Sun's lead, and multi-core, multithreaded chips are now commonplace.


So my first experience shrunk the system into a single chip.  My second experience aggregated multiple chips into a larger, more powerful system.  My third experience shrunk that system onto a single chip.  It only seems appropriate that my fourth breakthrough —Juniper’s QFabric technology—aggregates multiple multi-core servers into a single system, allowing all servers and storage to be interconnected into a single resource pool.


That brings me to the present.  Last week we unveiled QFabric, the fruit of Juniper's Stratus Project, yet another wonderful collaboration between Pradeep Sindhu and David Yen.  QFabric is a revolutionary architecture that enables the entire infrastructure within a data center to be interconnected via a fast, flat, any-to-any, packet-based fabric—not unlike SMP, but at the scale of a data center.  Sun always said "the network is the computer."  That is truer today than ever before.  Or perhaps now, it should be “the data center is the computer.”


So continues the great circle of life.  From RISC to SMP to CMT to QFabric, the process of shrinking and aggregation continues.  In the early days of my career, I believed that fundamental transformations like RISC were commonplace.  With a few more miles on the odometer, I now realize these are special events.  This is why I joined Juniper two-and-a-half years ago—to be here when we changed the data center forever.  As I did 25 years ago, I believe that 10 years from now, every data center will be built around a single, scalable fabric.


Where my crystal ball gets a little cloudy is how this will impact the world.  RISC triggered a quantum change in the price/ performance of computing.  This ultimately led to the ability for me to type this blog on a plane using my iPad and to have a powerful computer in my iPhone which connects via the Internet to an unimaginable wealth of information and services.  I could not have imagined this 25 years ago.  Today, all I know is that by interconnecting all the compute power of the data center into a single system, I believe this will unleash and assure another 25 years of innovation.  Personally, I can't wait.

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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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