Industry Solutions and Trends
Technology is more than just networking and Juniper experts share their views on all the trends affecting IT
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Industry Solutions and Trends
SDN and NFV needs a combination of software, servers and high end custom hardware
Mar 19, 2015

On March 11th Juniper Networks announced multiple new innovations around scaling the PTX core router, a new range of high density data centre switches and enhancements to our security products. Much of the coverage of these announcements was product centric, so in a world where a lot of the industry buzz is around new areas such as SDN, virtualisation and service agility you may be left thinking “so what?”


Here’s why continued innovation in the most scalable and efficient physical network products matters to service providers.


In my view there are fundamentally three trends in the networking world at the moment:


  1. Unrelenting growth in traffic
  2. Need to simplify and automate networks
  3. Continued shift to wireless and mobile access


The announcements last week are primarily tied to the unrelenting growth in traffic – all three areas push the performance envelope. However, they are also part of a wider Juniper strategy to simplify and automate networks.

For example, our routers are able to be controlled by SDN and our NorthStar Controller is able to intelligently and dynamically optimise the traffic flows in the WAN – all with minimal human intervention.


When we look at the data centre these new switches are fully integrated with software solutions such as Junos Fusion, Junos Space and Juniper’s Cloud Analytics Engine. Similarly on the security side there is the vSRX for x86 based deployments which also ties in to the full suite of Juniper software around security.


As Rami Rahim often says it is automation which underpins all of the trends in networking – and these new announcements are 100% aligned to these wider industry trends.


Today anything with virtualisation or SDN attracts lots of press coverage, but NFV and SDN are just starting to be deployed and it may be 10 years till they are fully deployed. Even when NFV and SDN are fully deployed. I believe that physical routers like the Juniper MX and PTX will still be the workhorses of service provider networks. Virtualised network functions are great where the network is dynamic and fast changing, but they may not be appropriate for all parts of the network. Juniper’s approach of using the same code running Junos on both physical and virtual network functions will allow for a simple migration from small and agile virtualised functions to massively scalable products – all controlled by the same software.


If we look at the main transport infrastructure of a service provider, it is growing fast, but in a relatively predictable manner, and does not require fast scale up/down. Additionally the scaling required suggests to me that there will continue to be a role for customised silicon where scale and cost is most important. Juniper designed silicon is found in all of our highest scale products.


However this will also exist alongside merchant silicon (e.g. Broadcom and Marvel) for lower performance applications. Then there will also be general compute (x86) for very agile applications, control functions and advanced services.

If you look closely at the Juniper portfolio you’ll see that we have products using all three types of silicon for data plane functions within both our routing and security portfolios. Take a look at this great blog from Rami on Making the Right Silicon Decisions in Networking for more details.


Looping back to my initial thoughts on “so what”?


To me it’s clear that these new product announcements show that at Juniper we’re continuing to invest in scale, but in a manner which is integrated with a wider software and virtualisation ecosystem that will allow service provider to simplify and automate their networks – at all scales from the smallest branch to the largest core and peering sites.