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New Juniper SDN device portends forklift upgrades for core Ethernet switch

No 40/100G planned for existing Juniper Networks EX8200 switch; QFabric switch relegated to single-tier 10G data centers

By , Network World
March 25, 2013 04:10 PM ET

Network World - Any hopes Juniper EX8200 customers had that the core switch would grow to support next-generation 40/100G Ethernet, mobility, media-rich traffic, virtualization or cloud have been dashed.

Juniper's new EX9200 programmable switch will be positioned as the company's strategic offering for supporting mobility and media-rich traffic in the campus, and virtualization and cloud computing in the data center, sources familiar with the plans say. The switch, based on Juniper's MX router, is also positioned as the company's "on-ramp" to 40/100G Ethernet, replacing the EX8200 in that role.

The EX9200 will also limit Juniper's QFabric data center switch to 10G-only duty as the company's "lead" platform for single-tier fabrics, sources say. For those customers who are not interested in a single-tier or fabric-based data center network, the upcoming EX9200 will be positioned as the optimal platform in combination with the EX series and/or QFabric 1G/10G Ethernet top-of-rack switches, they say.

[ INTROSPECTION: Juniper CEO Johnson talks software, the company's recent challenges and key future directions ]

The eight-slot version of the EX9200 is expected to ship later this week, while the four- and 14-slot chassis are expected to ship at the end of April. A 100G Ethernet line card is slated for the fourth quarter, sources say.

Juniper last week confirmed that a new switch is coming but declined further detail until its announcement, which could come as early as next week.

According to a Juniper spokesperson, "QFabric, the EX8200 and the new EX switch are all critical ingredients of Juniper Networks product portfolio. While they differ in capabilities, each product has a clear value proposition for various enterprise networking environments."

The EX9200 will also be positioned as Juniper's optimal platform to support BYOD, data center consolidation, big data and virtual desktop infrastructures through unified policy management and SDN programmability, sources say.

When it was introduced, the EX8200 was touted as Juniper's lead core switching platform for campuses and data centers, with a capacity of 6.2Tbps to 12.4Tbps per chassis to eventually take users into the 40/100G Ethernet realm. Those users may now face a dead end, and a forklift upgrade to the EX9200.

The EX8200 will now be limited to midsize, two-tier 10G data center core/aggregation and campus core environments, sources say. Higher-speed 40/100G Ethernet interfaces are not on the EX8200 roadmap, they say, and users will be encouraged to upgrade to the EX9200 for those capabilities.

It does not appear that the EX9200 will be backward-compatible with EX8200 or MX router line cards either, sources say. EX8200 users may face a complete chassis and line card replacement to upgrade their switching core, they say.

Juniper is instructing EX resellers and sales partners to "reassure" customers who have recently made an investment in the EX8200 based on it being "100G Ethernet ready" by telling them the company is still committed to it in terms of support and incremental investment. Juniper is also instructing partners to tell EX8200 customers the company is committed to assisting in the migration to the EX9200 when 40G/100G bandwidth is required, sources say.

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