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The Secret Sauce of a Winning Cloud Platform
Jun 17, 2014

The Japanese culture is almost synonymous to the relentless pursuit of perfection, which has prompted the country and its people to look into and become early adopters of new innovations to help them stay ahead. That is why I am especially proud that Juniper's Contrail won Best of Show Award Special Prize at Interop Tokyo last week in the Cloud Platform category.


What makes Contrail stand out?


First of all, Contrail is a poster child of JuniperÕs open mindset to endow customers the freedom to choose best of breed products and technologies. Customers can avoid expensive vendor-lock with an open architecture that interoperates with a wide range service options, whether they are physical or virtual, implemented in hardware or software, Juniper or third-party

.The openness reflects in multiple dimensions:

  • Open northbound API between control and orchestration planes. These APIs are published and open to customers, partners, and the open source community if applicable for development. The Open APIs enable each of the planes to innovate and develop with clean abstraction.
  • Open Standards within each plane (control, services, forwarding) and between control and services/forwarding planes to maximize interoperability and give customers the freedom to choose best of breed products at each plane.
  • Open Source (Join the growing community at ( to foster innovation in SDN and NFV and help drive adoption of the cloud.
  • Open Eco-System to encourage technology partners to develop new services, and platform enhancements to jointly have a more comprehensive and competitive SDN and NFV solution.



Secondly, Contrail leverages latest technologies such as Big Data analytics to intelligently close the infrastructure-provisioning loop. This is huge because this kind of highly intelligent platform simplifies operations and lower opex through a policy-driven infrastructure that is responsive to application requirements, and a feedback loop powered by rich analytics to improve resource provisioning and opportunities for monetization. Contrail can synthesize statistics and information from physical and virtual network and services components and provide insights that can help:

  • Improve monitoring, troubleshooting and diagnostics with a scalable analytics engine and modern visualization techniques.
  • Improve network planning and intelligence resource provisioning. Analytics can close the feedback loop in the NFV system via machine learning.
  • Improve opportunities for monetization.


In addition, Contrail is a policy-driven platform. In general, applications and users define service policies and service level agreements in an abstract and declarative manner to tell the infrastructure the specific behaviors they desire. These declarative policies move through the policy engine and are translated into rules that the packet handling elements understand and can act upon. These next level rules can then be distributed to nodes as needed upon endpoint attachment or by an administrative static binding. This architecture is the foundation for advanced automation and orchestration.


Last but not least, Contrail was designed from ground-up to be able to scale almost infinitely across multiple data centers and multiple cloud, enabling true inter-cloud federation and extensible and flexible hybrid cloud. This is done through:

  • Contrail Controller software itself has been designed to scale out. The Contrail Controller is logically centralized but can be physically distributed and running on multiple virtual machines. Multiple control nodes form a cluster and these nodes communicate with each other through BGP to stay synchronized.
  • Scale beyond the virtual-physical boundary. Contrail is designed by networking people for the networking community, and we leverage some of the proven protocols and standards that have been proven to scale, such as MP-BGP to communicate between Contrail Controller and physical gateways to extend the cloud across physical WAN or Internet.
  • With tight integration with cloud management platforms such as OpenStack and CloudStack, the virtualized services running on top of the Contrail platform can scale up and down on demand, based on the infrastructure telemetry.



Want to learn more about Contrail? Check out Contrail Visualized to see it with your own eyes on what Contrail can do for you!