Thursday, February 21, 2013

Juniper Looks to Virtualize the Mobile Packet Core

Building on its carrier SDN announcement in January, Juniper Networks outlined the next steps it will take to bring the power and efficiency of virtualization to mobile packet cores.

Juniper's strategy relies in part on its JunosV App Engine, a specialized hypervisor that will deployed on its key networking elements as well as on commodity compute hardware. The JunosV App Engine will enable virtualized networking functions, including signaling and control (SGSN/MME) for LTE, 3G and 2G radio access networks. Juniper will also deliver an SDN controller leveraging technology from its recent acquisition of Contrail.

Juniper sidits new services provisioning application, mobile infrastructure application and virtualized services engine will help network operators achieve elastic capacity, increased service velocity, while lowering overall capital and operating expenses.

Products being announced for Mobile World Congress include:

Juniper Networks Services Activation Director -- combines five applications into one to enable service providers to provision thousands of seamless services in a fraction of the time, including MPLS and Carrier Ethernet for mobile backhaul. The Services Activation Director, along with other Junos Space applications, will be available for purchase in the first half of 2013 through Juniper Software Advantage, which allows the software to transfer to any network element with which it operates

Juniper Networks Mobile Control Gateway -- a virtualized function running on the JunosV App Engine, providing signaling and control (SGSN/MME) functions to the LTE, 3G and 2G radio access networks. As a virtualized network function, mobile operators can now rapidly scale up and down capacity to meet variable demand requirements.   Now shipping.

Juniper Networks JunosV App Engine -- centralizes the development, provisioning and management of both Juniper Networks and third-party applications on a common platform. This platform also enables customers to grow the compute, memory and processing resource needed for cloud-based applications and services attached specifically to the MX edge router. Customers and partners, such as Hitachi, have already built applications on this platform. Now shipping.

New SRX line cards for the SRX5600 and 5800 Series Services Gateway.  The SRX Series collapses the security gateway, firewall, switching, and routing layers onto a single platform,.  The new line cards support up to 100 million concurrent sessions and up to 200 Gbps of firewall throughput with a single SRX Services Gateway.

In January 2013, 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.
A key part of Juniper's SDN strategy involves the concept of "Service Chaining" whereby an SDN controller is used to virtually insert services into the flow of network traffic.  The company sees SDN extending all the way across all domains of the network: Core, Edge, Access & Aggregation, Data Center, WAN, Campus & Branch.  Juniper's SDN roadmap initially targets two of these areas -- the Service Provider Edge and the Data Center.

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.