Data Center Directions
MichaelLeonard , Regular Visitor
Data Center Directions
A Look Back at 2014 and Innovation at Juniper Networks
Dec 17, 2014

As the year comes to an end it’s always interesting to look back at the changes in the industry and the progress that we made as a company in the last year. There were many trends that emerged or took further hold of the industry in 2014. Let’s take a look at them and see how Juniper delivered innovation in these areas. Cloud computing and the need for on-demand resources was a big one. The open source movement is continuing to grow in the cloud space and OpenStack and CloudStack are gaining momentum. The Dev/Ops movement and the need for automation of IT resources was another big trend in the news. We saw Dev/Ops extend to networking equipment like the top of rack switch, when it had previously been mainly for server configuration. Overlay networks took hold in 2014 with the likes of Juniper’s Contrail and VMware’s NSX gaining momentum. New network fabric architectures were introduced like IPClos that is popular with the MSDC’s or Massively Scalable Data Center Operators and Spine and Leaf architectures that offer simplified deployment and management. The rise of the Open Compute Project and its move to include networking was a bit of a surprise for me. There is certainly something going on there.

 

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Openstack/Cloudstack Integration

Cloud computing is transforming the way business is done today. It’s not hard to see why when you consider all the benefits that the cloud promises such as flexibility, business agility and economies of scale. As you look into the underlying layers of compute, storage and network, there is complexity in managing such an infrastructure in a dynamic environment. Organizations that are building clouds need a platform to automate the deployment of infrastructure. In addition to offerings from commercial vendors this type of software stack is being developed by the user community of open source organizations. In the interests of being open and offering our customers choices Juniper announced support for OpenStack back in 2013. We continued this momentum by announcing support for CloudStack in 2014. For more on CloudStack see, CloudStack and Juniper’s MetaFabric, Enabling Private and Public Cloud.

 

Automation Integration with Puppet, Chef and Ansible

Juniper has always been about being open.  We serve a diverse set of customers with different use cases who like to use different tool sets.  Back in 2013 we announced support for Puppet. We kept up this momentum by later announcing support for Chef and then for Ansible in 2014. There are sysadmin using Puppet or Chef to manipulate infrastructure as code. Because we are open, we’ve productize the capability to work with these tools into both our hardware and software solutions.  Ultimately this gives our customers greater flexibility, without having to do a costly rip and replace of their infrastructure, in choosing which automation tools to use. Of course Juniper has had on the box automation as a part of JUNOS for many years. For more on automation see, Automation with Chef, Puppet and Ansible.

 

VMware NSX Multi-Hypervisor Integration

Overlay networks like NSX are changing the way that applications are deployed in the network.  One term that you’ll see is “NSX Gateway”.  Juniper is an NSX development partner. Our routers and switches deliver capabilities across two categories: NSX L2 gateway services and VXLAN routing.  We have done integration with NSX and our QFX5100 TOR switch to provide the L2 gateway. We also have VxLAN routing capabilities in our MX routers. What makes this notable is the level of flexibility users can enjoy as they implement and migrate to their NSX environment. With the VxLAN routing any environment can be connected to any other. With the L2 gateway SDN environments can be connected to legacy environments. For more on NSX integration see, The Definitive Guide to NSX Gateway Use Cases.

 

Virtual Chassis Fabric Data Center Architecture
As organizations looked to deploy new virtualized and distributed applications they Virtual Chassis Fabric was designed to address the requirements of financial services, federal government, healthcare and other organizations that are deploying modern applications and need a high-performance network that also helps keep costs under control through simplified management. By providing any-to-any connectivity between switch ports, Virtual Chassis Fabric maximizes performance for physical servers, virtual servers, and storage in the data center. Virtual Chassis Fabric also supports VM mobility, ensuring that the network can keep up with the dynamic nature of today’s applications. For more on Virtual Chassis Fabric see, A Network Fabric for New Applications in the Data Center.

 

The OCX OCP Switch Announcement

The cloud networking movement is driving the need for open standards. In 2013 an effort to define an open network switch was announced by the OCP Forum. The focus was to develop specifications and reference boxes for open, OS agnostic top-of-rack switches. The term disaggregation is often used in this context. It refers to separation of the hardware from the software. This is a paradigm shift from the existing vertically integrated model. Customers now have the option to run a network OS of their choice on a standard switch hardware. Juniper joined this movement with the announcement of the OCX1100 switch in December of 2014, bringing the power of JUNOS to an OCP specification switch. For more on the OCX1100 see, Junos on OCP Switches.

 

The QFX5100 Switch Bringing Innovation to the Data Center

The QFX5100 was announced in 2013 and has seen considerable momentum in the marketplace in 2014. The QFX5100 made possible architectural choices data center that increase the scale out capacity of the network like Virtual Chassis Fabric, which was announced in 2014, which provides an any-to-any topology with simplified deployment and management. The QFX5100 also introduced leading edge features that competitors are still trying to match, like In Service Software Upgrades and the Guest Virtual Machine environment for running applications on the switch. The first application that Juniper announced was the insight technology, which enables customers to detect microburst events in the underlay network and use it for application performance management and capacity planning. For more on the analytics see, Introducing the Cloud Analytics Engine. In 2014 Juniper has further extended our applications and services that are enabled by the QFX5100. Juniper’s technology innovation around DevOps has been so well received in the marketplace that recently competitors like Arista announced technology to try and match the capabilities that have been available for the last year from Junos. See, Arista Introduces EOS+: Platform for Software Driven Cloud Networking.

 

The EX4600 Switch Bringing Higher Capacity to the Campus

In August Juniper announced the EX4600 switch that is built for the distribution layer in campus networks. It is designed for IT networking teams of enterprises and SMBs who are rolling out new applications and services and require higher performance to support them. This compact switch delivers innovations that were developed on the QFX5100 for the data center including ISSU for hitless upgrades, Insight Technology for performance monitoring and 40GbE ports for high speed uplinks. It works as a standalone switch as well as in Virtual Chassis and MC-LAG architectures as options providing simplified management and network resiliency. For more on the EX4600 see, Announcing Juniper’s Most Highly Available Campus Distribution Switch.

 

Looking at 2015 and What is to Come

While we don’t know for certain what will happen in 2015 I think that we will see more change and innovation in networking. Networks will keep changing from their old static deployment model to an automated and on-demand model. They will change to support new virtualized and distributed applications. Networks will change from being stand alone resources to becoming more integrated with the rest of the IT infrastructure. Sometimes networking is thought of as plumbing that is out of sight, but there is a lot going on in networking and it’s anything but boring. I expect to see even more innovation from Juniper in the New Year. It’s an exciting time to be in networking.

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