Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Juniper Provides Infranet Update

A secure and assured Internet infrastructure is "the inevitable destination of the networking industry" said Pradeep Sindhu, Juniper Networks' CTO and Founder, at an Analyst Day presentation in Sunnyvale, California. For Juniper, this evolution of the Internet is the aim of the Infranet Initiative.

The Infranet Initiative was introduced in 2003 at Telecom Geneva by Juniper and Lucent Technologies. Sindhu said there are now about 30 companies participating in the initiative, including a few big name service providers, such as BT and Deutsche Telekom.

The Infranet will require agreement on two standards: a client network interface (CNI) that enables an application to tell the network what it needs for service assurance, and an inter carrier interface (ICI) that allows these technical requirements to be passed across multiple network domains. Significantly, ICI would let carriers settle billing charges based the type and volume of traffic carried on behalf of each other's customers. For the Infranet to succeed, Sindhu said both these two standards need to adopted globally.

A significant milestone was reached this past summer when members ratified an Infranet reference architecture. Infranet participants have also developed the first five application scenarios that could benefit from the architecture. These applications include multi-provider VPNs, fixed-mobile convergence, web radio, web video, and high-performance software distribution. Sindhu expects there will be a multistage migration from the best-effort Internet to full-scale Infranet capabilities. Juniper is planning a number of activities in the coming months to build momentum for the Infranet.

Two questions stood out from the presentation.

  • 1. Can the Infranet Initiative succeed without Cisco participation? Sindhu said he believes all players want to see IP networks succeed. The real question, he argued, is whether this will be accomplished via open standards or whether there will be a proprietary standard and single network vendor that comes to dominate the industry. He encouraged all players in the industry to participate in this effort. Sindhu vowed that all technologies developed through the Infranet Initiative would be based on open standards.

  • 2. If carriers are finally able to implement reciprocal compensation agreements for IP traffic, will this lead to an end of open peering for the Internet? Sindhu said a bigger question is how service providers will ever make money over the long term if such arrangements are not established. He argued that ultimately there must be an alignment between amounts network usage and amounts of payment.