An Era of Uncertainty Demands a Flexible Networking Platform
It’s difficult to navigate transitions during the best of times. But when the market is fragmented and the technology landscape is confusing, plotting out a successful course forward can be extremely time consuming and confounding.
It’s not surprising that Forrester highlights these challenges in their latest Forrester Wave report. Here’s what can be learned from their research findings:
There is not one path forward. Even amongst the most advanced companies anywhere in the world, there is no consensus on the approach or technology that will carry the industry forward. The major cloud and XaaS players, including Facebook, Google and other tier-1 cloud platforms, have different technological theses behind their plans. When the future is uncertain, flexibility is more important than ever.
Uncertainty leads to confusion. It’s somewhat expected that an unclear future leads to confusion in the marketplace as the industry wields buzzwords with impunity. The proliferation of basic definitions makes it even harder for enterprises to make sense of the technology landscape.
Not everyone is charging forward. During times of disruption, some companies will play defense, using the confusion to protect an incumbent base. Incrementalist thinking protects installed bases, but at the expense of progress.
Incumbency is losing its grip. Innovative companies are breaking away from incumbent approaches. Technology-forward companies are demonstrating that while the adage “no one ever got fired for buying [x]” might be a good defensive position, it does nothing to ensure a stronger future.
The future requires both hardware and software. While it’s common to hear the refrain software is eating the world, the future requires a combination of both hardware and software. Overlays are important, and they need to be paired with underlying infrastructure capable of delivering against the software-defined promise.
Overlays may not solve every challenge. According to Forrester: “Tunneling and encapsulation technology have helped overcome some challenges with SDN, SDWAN, virtualizing the network and virtual machine (VM) movement. Overlay technology can go only so far. Ultimately, SDN must manipulate the network’s physical infrastructure, especially because many of today’s enterprise data center servers remain on bare metal and are therefore unable to use [some] SDN overlays.”
The real punchline here is that times are changing, and this demands a different way of thinking about the network. And a different way favors the bold: both on the enterprise customer side and the vendor side.
The Evolution of Open and Programmable Data Center Networking Hardware
The changing technology climate is forcing an evolution within the market. According to the report, the market for data center hardware platforms for SDN is growing because more Infrastructure & Operations professionals see these platforms as a way to address their top challenges. Importantly, that evolution requires a recommitment of sorts to open and programmable networking hardware.
The most important takeaways from the report are:
The future is a journey. It’s not just that companies have different objectives, but they also have different paths to get there. Solutions will need to be suitably open to accommodate the path forward and enterprises will need to ensure they are always keeping their options open. Enterprises will need to consider how they evolve not just their products, but also their people and processes.
Networks will be businesswide. It simply will not be the case that a data center will be bounded by four walls. Workloads will span physical and virtual environments in both public and private clouds. This puts an emphasis on end-to-end monitoring, orchestration and automation.
Automation and programmability will be key. As the network becomes more dynamic and multi-domain, abstraction and automation will command skills in programming. The operational architecture will necessarily include a diverse set of tools, which will mean that networking equipment will need to support a broad range of integrations and capabilities.
Risk needs to be balanced. Perhaps most importantly, because of the uncertainty, companies need to manage risk by choosing flexibility at every step of the journey. Forrester points out that platforms should be open and flexible to maximize functionality and interoperability.
Forrester’s Five Tenets of Virtual Networking Infrastructure (VNI)
Forrester five tenets are:
Juniper as a Leader in Data Center Hardware platforms for SDN
Forrester evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of top vendors in this category. In this evaluation, Juniper joins a list of nine vendors.
Built on a mix of general CPU, merchant silicon and custom silicon, Juniper allows companies to select a form factor that fits the economics and physics that their business demands. Whether it is the flagship Juniper Networks® QFX Series Switches in a private cloud or a virtual router in a public cloud, enterprises can leverage a common operating system to simplify enterprise networking. Junos has been purpose-built to support telemetry and programmability, both of which are prerequisites for a highly automated infrastructure.
Additionally, Juniper has developed an open orchestration platform in the Juniper® Contrail® Enterprise Multicloud to facilitate multi-domain policy management with end-to-end visibility. Juniper’s approach allows workloads to run wherever they need to satisfy economic or experience requirements. In a future where multi-tenant access across a distributed enterprise is key, Juniper is delivering a solution that is both open and flexible.
And perhaps most critical, Juniper’s common OS and orchestration layer extends beyond the data center, allowing IT teams to leverage a seamless multicloud architecture that stretches from the campus or branch to both the private and public cloud—all built in a way that supports an open, multi-vendor ecosystem.
Juniper believes that policy and security should be managed in the same way, regardless of whether the underlying resource is bare metal or virtual, underlay or overlay, running on merchant silicon or custom silicon, on-premises or off-premises, in a public cloud or a private cloud and even Juniper or non-Juniper.