Juniper Sees Huge Shift with Software-Defined Networking
By Jennifer LeClaire / CIO Today. Updated January 15, 2013.
At its Global Partner Conference on Tuesday, Juniper Networks unveiled its vision to transition enterprises and service providers from traditional network infrastructures to software-defined networks (SDN). With its strategy, the networking company has thrown down the SDN gauntlet.
Bob Muglia, executive vice president of the Software Solutions Division at Juniper, called SDN a major shift in the networking industry. He said the impact of SDN would be much broader than others have suggested.
"It will redefine networking and create new winners and losers," Muglia said. "We're embracing SDN with clearly defined principles, a four-step roadmap to help customers adopt SDN within their business, and the networking industry's first comprehensive software-centric business model."
Juniper Nails the Needs
Juniper's SDN strategy is rooted in principles the company believes directly address the most pressing networking challenges facing the industry. First, Juniper sees the need to cleanly separate networking software into four layers -- management, services, control and forwarding -- providing the architectural underpinning to optimize each plane within the network.
Juniper also pointed to a need to centralize the appropriate aspects of the management, services and control software to simplify network design and lower operating costs; use the cloud for elastic scale and flexible deployment, enabling usage-based pricing to reduce time-to-service and correlate cost based on value.
Juniper said the industry needs to create a platform for network applications, services and integration into management systems, enabling new business solutions; standardize protocols for interoperable, heterogeneous support across vendors, providing choice and lowering cost; and broadly apply SDN principles to all networking and network services, including security from the data center and enterprise campus to the mobile and wireline networks used by service providers.
"SDN promises a way for the networking industry to deliver two critically needed benefits to its customers," said Pradeep Sindhu, co-founder and chief technical officer at Juniper Networks.
"The first is the ability of vendors to deliver innovation at a faster rate and the ability of customers to absorb it at a faster rate," Sindhu said. "The second is a dramatic reduction in the operational cost of running a network, achieved primarily through simplification."
Better Product Execution
Juniper then outlined a four-step process to solve those problems, including centralizing network management, analytics and configuration functionality to provide a single master that configures all networking devices; extracting networking and security services from the underlying hardware by creating service virtual machines (VMs); introducing a centralized controller that enables multiple network and security services to connect in series across devices within the network, known as "SDN Service Chaining"; and optimizing the usage of network and security hardware to deliver high performance.
"SDN is frequently discussed in narrow terms rather than holistically, with solutions focused mostly in the forwarding and data planes," said Vernon Turner, senior vice president of research at IDC. "Juniper's approach is one of the most comprehensive that we've seen to date from any networking provider -- from both a technology and business model perspective."
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, said he agreed with the principles Juniper laid out, and feels focusing on the service provider audience is a good bet. But he said he was still left a little disappointed after watching via webcast.
"Juniper didn't give any indication of upcoming products or solutions," Kerravala told us. "When I look at most SDN vendors out there, they've done a good job coming up with products without clearly defining problems. Juniper clearly highlighted the problems but didn't give any indication of solutions. This is a good first step but we need to see better product execution from Juniper."