Engineering Simplicity
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Engineering Simplicity
Skills Transformation Through Juniper’s OpenLab Throwdown
Mar 30, 2017

Imagine a world where predictive, automated and network-based mega-services adapt to user behavior, enabling better decision-making and enriching personal and business lives. In this world of tomorrow, network engineers will spend more time developing next-generation software than they do physically configuring routers and switches. At Juniper Networks, we call this an era of Digital Cohesion and businesses are quickly approaching this new frontier.


To support this era, communications service providers will need to re-examine the way they architect their networks. As the technology landscape evolves, networking engineers are required to develop new skillsets to keep up with emerging responsibilities and a transforming industry. That’s where Juniper’s OpenLab comes into play. OpenLab’s programs offer the current and future IT workforce the tools and hands-on education they need to propel their expertise to stay ahead of the changing tech landscape.


In February, Juniper and Verizon co-hosted the first software-defined networking and network automation “Throwdown” at Juniper’s new OpenLab Silicon Valley location. The Throwdown brought together eight teams of students from various local Bay Area universities – CSU East Bay, San Jose State University, Santa Clara University and UC Santa Cruz – that had the opportunity to learn about software-defined networking and tackle a real-world network automation challenge.




After two days of workshops, student participants were asked to put their learning into practice and solve a problem that our customers face in real life. Using Juniper’s NorthStar SDN WAN Controller, teams were asked to optimize the delivery of traffic across a multi-node network. The shared network was volatile, with frequently changing conditions such as link failures and congestion. Students were required to monitor the network’s state and performance and reroute network traffic to preserve service quality, based on the real-time network situation. 





Teams were given five days to develop a solution. Following this time allotment, teams regrouped on-site and presented their solutions to a panel of judges. While all eight teams came up with impressive ideas to solve the problem, team members from “Spartan-Defined Networking” – one of the San Jose State University teams – took home the grand prize and bragging rights. Another team from San Jose State University finished in second place and the team from UC Santa Cruz captured third place. In addition to the competition, all participants had the opportunity to engage with Juniper and Verizon HR representatives to explore job opportunities with each company.  


Juniper is excited to be part of our future IT workforce’s skills development and we look forward to co-hosting more Throwdowns with our esteemed customers and partners across our seven OpenLab locations worldwide. If you have any questions or want to learn more about OpenLab, please reference our website or email us at