Juniper hones product dev for cloud, intelligent networks
19 June 2014 | 0
Juniper Networks combined its hardware and software units to better align product development and share technology across products lines for cloud and intelligent networking.
By merging its Platform Systems Division and Software Solutions Division into the Juniper Development and Innovation business unit (JDI), Juniper can eliminate unnecessary organisational barriers in the company and build end-to-end systems that “crush operational expense” through automation, optimisation and analytics, says Rami Rahim, executive vice president of the JDI. Rahim’s discussion with Network World is one of the first a high-ranking Juniper executive has granted since formation of the JDI.
“There’s a certain clarity around the company on what our mission is and our strategy, and we’re aligning our products and our go-to-market muscle along with that strategy,” Rahim said, referring the formation of JDI to address the requirements of “cloud builders” and “high IQ” networks. “There’s tremendous opportunity to combine products together into solutions to better address customer requirements. One R&D organisation really helps us.”
JDI streamlines R&D and help Junipers share technology among different product group
The JDI was formed under new CEO Shaygan Kheradpir and his Integrated Operating Plan (IOP). The IOP is intended to refocus the company on high growth segments in the networking industry, streamline R&D and go-to-market programs, drive efficiencies in all areas of company operation, and return capital to shareholders.
The JDI streamlines R&D. It will also help Juniper share technology among different product groups.
An example of that is the 100G interfaces on Juniper’s high-end SRX security platform, which leverage 100G silicon found on Juniper’s routing and switching products.
“It helps us keep up with the pace with the change in the industry,” Rahim said.
And that change is rapid and divergent. Customers are implementing fabric-based switching to make networks flatter to address east/west traffic flows between server racks, reduce latency, more tightly integrate compute and storage, and better support virtualisation.
Juniper offers five or six different fabric architectures depending on customer need: Virtual Chassis, which binds its switches together into a single, logical switch; QFabric, its one hop, single-tier, single failure domain data centre architecture; Virtual Chassis Fabric (VCF), which is a 1G/10G/40G optimised fabric that scales to 768 10G ports by combining Juniper’s EX and QFX top-of-rack switches into a single-tier, single logical switch; and leaf-and-spine two tier, and Layer 3 two- and three-tier architectures, which many in the industry support.
Juniper also offers which it calls a MetaFabric, which Rahim described as a framework for enabling rapid application provisioning within and across multiple data centres by pooling network resources based on Juniper’s QFX and EX switches, MX routers, SRX security systems and Contrail SDN controller, and partner products.
Customer demand is greatest for Virtual Chassis and QFabric because they’re older and have been established longer, Rahim says. VCF and MetaFabric were introduced late last year.
“VCF is relatively new, and more and more of our customers are moving to a Layer 3 leaf/spine architecture within the data centre,” Rahim says. “Some of our largest customers are actually deploying MPLS technology in the data centre and that again gives us another point of differentiation because we are leveraging our Junos software system.”
QFabric’s single-tier implementation “is not for everybody,” Rahim acknowledges, but it does give Juniper some market differentiation.
“There are a lot of players in the industry today that talk fabrics but really as far as single tier … there’s nothing else like it,” he says. “More of our customers are comfortable with the two-tier approach than a one-tier approach, but the one-tier really give us a point of differentiation right now in the industry.”
That differentiation comes down to the silicon that powers Juniper routers and switches as well. There’s been speculation that QFabric, which is based on merchant silicon, might attain a custom Juniper ASIC in a follow on generation, like the programmable ONE/Trio ASICs in the company’s EX9200 switch and MX routers.
Rahim downplayed that possibility.
“There’s a place for merchant silicon and for custom silicon across all of our product lines,” he said, “especially in switching. The programmability and high scale in our own silicon technology can add a tremendous amount of differentiation. But the key is to not reinvent something that already exists and we can buy off-the-shelf. We don’t need programmability in QFabric, which is designed for high scale and low latency. Programmability will sit at the edge of a QFabric.”