, Chief Executive Officer
MetaFabric – A Data Center Architecture whose time has come
Oct 29, 2013

At Futurecom in Rio de Janeiro last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with leading service providers and enterprises from around the world about the challenges they are facing and the solutions they are seeking.  From these meetings with our key customers and others like them over the last several months, I have developed deep determination in the problems that Juniper is solving and excitement about the solutions we are developing.  More than ever, the need to develop solutions that make the network simple to manage, that make it smart and insightful, and that promote openness in every way possible is here and now.





That is why I am so excited about the launch of Juniper Networks® MetaFabric™ Architecture, an end-to-end next generation data center (DC) architecture that accelerates the deployment and delivery of applications for enterprises and service providers. The MetaFabric Architecture provides the freedom and flexibility to use any protocol, any orchestration platform, any SDN (Software Defined Network) controller, for any data center application with the assurance of interoperability and minimal disruption.


The network will be Simple

Networking should be complicated for Juniper, not for network operators. We need to extract network professionals from the details of network plumbing and get them to focus instead on basic requirements of connectivity, security, and policy.  For precisely the same reason that today’s computer programmers need not code in assembly language, we need the equivalent of a data model compiler for the networking world. This will empower the modern networking professional to focus on how to deliver business value with ease and with agility. SDN will do that. SDN will bring the concept of a compiler to the network. It will provide an abstract interface to users and applications, translating high-level data models to detailed device-specific instructions.  


The MetaFabric Architecture is simple because it is operated and managed with abstract, high-level, standardized device and OS-independent instructions.  MetaFabric also features underlying infrastructure that is programmable and that reacts swiftly to new instructions.


The network will be Smart

Today, there is a barrier that separates networks from users and networks from applications. It is a barrier where opex dollars, revenue dollars, and innovation all get trapped. At Juniper, we view it as our responsibility towards the networking industry to overcome this barrier.


Such a mission requires that our systems provide the necessary touch points and control points for use by the software and application layer. We must develop software applications that can leverage network visibility and programmability to extract information and to convert it to knowledge and insight. With that, we can move from a world of limited visibility and no intelligence to a world of real-time visibility and smart systems.


At its basic level, a smart system will allow for rapid troubleshooting in multi-layer networks that are virtualized using overlays. Beyond that, smart systems can enable intelligent capacity planning based on much improved network visibility and predictability. The end-goal is about real-time machine learning.  Imagine here a world in which the SDN system, hardware and software, working seamlessly together, acts automatically based on real-time network conditions.  This would be not unlike an airplane autopilot system that constantly monitors environmental conditions and accordingly adjusts the aircraft’s control systems to create the smoothest possible flight for its passengers.


The MetaFabric Architecture features built-in intelligence and analytics to drive insight and knowledge that make the data center network more relevant than ever.


The Network will be Open

In the mid-90s we saw the beginning of the explosion in demand for IP network capacity. But there was a problem.  The network at that time wasn’t really fit for the task.


Juniper’s first product, the M40, changed everything with its revolutionary architecture, separating the management, control and the data planes. By decoupling these functions, we enabled innovation to happen independently in each and therefore we accelerated innovation altogether.


Cleanly separating an architecture around stable long-lasting interfaces also enables optimal decisions of the silicon engine that supports each component.  For example, the services plane should run on general-purpose processors, while the dataplane needs high performance custom silicon to achieve the necessary levels of performance and power efficiency.


SDN applies these same principles but as network layers – not just within a router.  It also formalizes the interfaces between the different network layers and we fundamentally believe that the interfaces and protocols that connect the layers should be open and standards based.


The net of it is that having open interfaces is a fundamental tenet of accelerating innovation and service delivery in any network, which is why it is an essential principle of the MetaFabric Architecture.


Please check out our MetaFabric Architecture vision and related deliverables and see if you like what you read. Drop me a note with your thoughts.