In what it described as a transformative step for the company and for the networking industry, Juniper Networks outlined a four-step roadmap to software-defined networking with the goal of improving automation and agility in data centers and across service provider networks.
Pradeep Sindhu, Juniper's CTO and Founder, said the company has always believed in open standards. Juniper is supporting OpenFlow in routers and switches this year. The company has also partnered with Big Switch and others in the SDN space. However, Sindhu described OpenFlow as an early protocol that needs to evolve, and probably not the most important one for SDN.
Juniper is enabling the SDN virtualization with existing protocols, including BGP, thereby enabling the existing routing and switching infrastructure to participate in the SDN transformation. Juniper will adopt the OpenStack model as its primary orchestration system and will work with others including VMware and IBM.
It is still early days in SDN and Juniper believes the adoption of this technology will be gradual over many years. One significant change will be the way network software is delivered. Juniper is introducing a new software licensing and maintenance model that allows the transfer of software licenses between Juniper devices and industry-standard x86 servers.
Juniper's Four Step Roadmap
Step 1: Centralize network management, analytics and configuration functionality to provide a single master that configures all networking devices.
Step 2: Extract networking and security services from the underlying hardware by creating service virtual machines (VMs). This enables network and security services to independently scale using industry-standard x86 hardware based on the needs of the solution.
Step 3: Introduce a centralized controller that enables multiple network and security services to connect in series across devices within the network using "SDN Service Chaining" – using software to virtually insert services into the flow of network traffic. The SDN Service Chaining will be introduced in 2014 utilizing the SDN controller technology acquired from Contrail Systems, together with the evolution of the JunosV App Engine.
Step 4: Optimize the usage of network and security hardware to deliver high performance. Specifically, Juniper's MX Series and SRX Series products will evolve to support software-based Service Chaining architecture.
"SDN is a major shift in the networking industry. At Juniper, we think the impact of SDN will be much broader than others have suggested. It will redefine networking and create new winners and losers. 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," stated Bob Muglia, executive vice president, Software Solutions Division, Juniper Networks.
Muglia said the Service Chain concept can satify a range of applications across the networking industry. Some examples include: (1) a cloud data center connection between the Internet and a web server, (2) between two components of a cloud application, such as between a web server and a middle-tier application VMs, and (3) the mobile service provider edge, where network traffic is coming from a cell phone tower, moving through an edge router and then to various systems where deeper processing occurs.
The six principles of Juniper’s SDN strategy:
- Cleanly separate networking software into four layers (or planes) – management, services, control and forwarding – providing the architectural underpinning to optimize each plane within the network.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- In December 2012, Juniper Networks agreed to acquire Contrail Systems, a start-up developing software defined networking (SDN) solutions for approximately $176 million in cash and stock. Contrail Systems, which is based in Santa Clara, California, was founded in early 2012 was still in stealth mode at the time of the acquisition. Juniper was a strategic investor in the company. Contrail Systems is headed by Ankur Singla (CEO), who previously served as Chief Technology Officer and VP of Engineering at Aruba Networks. The Contrail team includes Dr. Kireeti Kompella (CTO), who was formerly CTO and Chief Architect, JunOS at Juniper; Pedro Marques,previously a developer of control applications for the Cluster Management Team at Google and before that a distinguished engineer at Cisco and Juniper; Harshad Nakil, previously at Aruba Fellow and also distinguished engineer at Juniper and Cisco; and others.
- In June 2012, Juniper Networks introduced a smaller version of its QFabric System aimed at mid-sized data centers. The QFabric architecture, which was first unveiled in February 2011 and began shipping in September 2011, collapses multilayer data center infrastructure into a single, any-to-any fabric that unifies networking, storage and cloud computing resources. The product set is composed of three components that create a high-performance, low latency fabric. The QF/Node acts as the distributed decision engine of the fabric; the QF/Interconnect is the high speed transport device; and the QF/Director delivers a common window, controlling all devices as one.
The first implementation of QFabric scales to 6,000 network nodes, allowing any network interface within the network to connect to any other interface in a single hop. Juniper achieves this 6,000 port switching fabric by decoupling the line cards on the central fabric and moving them out into the network using dual-homed fiber connections. The entire 6,000 node network is a single switch and can be managed as such.