The Return of JDI: A New Hope (for Service Providers)
Mar 5, 2015
As a super fan, I see Star Wars everywhere: on my phone, the background on my desktop—even my pets are named after Star Wars characters. The movie franchise has even followed me to Juniper, where our engineering organization is known as Juniper Development and Innovation—JDI for short, but we refer to it as “Jedi.” I was recently joking with a colleague, “Now that we are Jedi, we’re going to provide a new hope for our customers.”
In fact, I even see a parallel between Star Wars and the plight of service providers, who are facing a drastic rise in the amount and unpredictability of traffic while trying to retain or grow wallet share that is deteriorating due to the declining cost of Internet connectivity. In my mind, this is analogous to the Rebel Alliance facing the reconstruction of a second Death Star (the modern-day Death Star for service providers, of course, being the second wave of Internet growth fueled by mobile, video, and cloud applications).
To validate Internet traffic growth, Sandvine puts out a bi-annual report describing how traffic continues to grow through traditional means like file sharing, YouTube, and Facebook. Every few years, a new traffic-generating application hits the Internet. For instance, have you heard of twitch.tv? According to Sandvine, it has become the 15th largest traffic-producing application on the Internet in North America. This reminds me of the Battle of Endor, where Ewoks kept springing out of trees, eventually overwhelming the imperials.
For years, service providers have simply thrown bandwidth at this problem. Predictably, the story has an unhappy ending, similar to Anakin Skywalker succumbing to the darkside of the Force. With nowhere left to turn, service providers looked to their equipment vendors for answers: “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi… you’re my only hope.” I’ve been in many conversations that unfolded in similar fashion: “How will you help me deal with the cost of handling all this traffic? This needs to be addressed with the procurement team? Make it less complex to operationalize too?”
Like a true Jedi, channeling the wisdom of Yoda (“No! Try not! Do or do not, there is no try!”), Juniper released the first core router that addressed service provider concerns with rising cost. In 2012, Verizon was the first customer to publicly announce they were deploying Juniper’s new PTX5000 as their core router of choice. This quote from Ihab Tarazi sums it up: “The PTX Series provides significant packet processing power, system scale, and reduced power consumption—all of which will help Verizon meet its future needs.” This was validation of a revolutionary approach JDI took to engineer a core router to solve service providers’ cost concerns as well as operational complexity in a single package.
However, this was simply the beginning! Just as the Jedi of old discovered, meditation revealed more could be done. In 2014, Juniper announced the industry’s first ever traffic-engineering SDN controller, the NorthStar Controller. With another industry first, Juniper provided service providers with a new knob to turn: greater control over traffic flowing through the network, allowing them to optimize amortization costs of the traffic across the network by increasing overall network utilization. Once a padawan becomes a Jedi Knight, they have transformed themselves both physically (PTX Series) and mentally (NorthStar) into a defender of good: the right solution for service provider core networks.
The SDN era has begun. But let’s recognize that hardware is still a vital part of the equation, enabling service provider profitability. Juniper is truly innovating a Supercore architecture that will return service providers to profitability. It’s the Return of the Jedi. With the new Star Wars movie rapidly approaching, what new adventures await the JDI?