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"It seems to be right in line with where the market is and what customer requirements are," says Rohit Mehra of IDC.
Juniper says some of its current Junos Space applications can deliver centralized management. These will be extended and augmented over time.
The controller will be based on the company's recently announced JunosV App Engine, which will ship this quarter, and the recently acquired controller technology from Contrail. JunosV App Engine is intended to allow customers to quickly turn up new services and applications. It includes a Linux operating system and KVM hypervisor with APIs to Juniper and third-party applications that run on an x86-based server.
Juniper had previously stated that it was looking to coalesce the industry around an open source-based de facto industry standard SDN controller to go up against Cisco's Insieme development and the one obtained by VMware through its acquisition of Nicira. But the company's stance has "evolved" since disclosing that intention last September, says Bob Muglia, executive vice president of Juniper's Software Solutions Division.
Juniper now views open source as an advantageous interface technology between controllers, and between controllers and switches, rather than as the core of controller capability, Muglia says.
The controller will be delivered in 2014 and include the software service chaining capability, Muglia says. Juniper's MX router and SRX security gateway hardware will be optimized for the software service chaining capability, with Juniper's QFabric data center and EX series campus switches to follow.
Though the overall strategy is consistent with where the industry's going, Juniper's differentiator is the new software licensing model, which is called Juniper Software Advantage. It is based on enterprise software licensing models -- many of Juniper's top executives, including Muglia and CEO Kevin Johnson, are from Microsoft -- and allows the transfer of software licenses between Juniper devices and industry-standard x86 servers to protect customer investments.
The licensing strategy is also designed to allow customers to scale purchases based on actual usage. Juniper will announce specific software licensing packages throughout the year, and will transition its software business model by the end of 2015.
The licensing plan distinguishes Juniper's SDN strategy from Cisco's and its other competitors. None have articulated a revamped software licensing strategy based on adoption of SDN.
But IDC's Mehra says the entire industry will have to move to a software-based business model with the advent of SDN. And Nav Chander, another IDC analyst, says Juniper will have to sell the new enterprise-based licensing model to its service provider customers, which account for 65% of Juniper's revenue.
"This is going to be a big change for service providers," Chander says. "This licensing and pricing plan hasn't been socialized with that community yet."
Most of the way Juniper accounts for revenue is from hardware sales, he notes. The new licensing model may shift most of the revenue accountability to software.