Juniper heads to the clouds with Unite

The Unite framework is a solid, prescriptive way for Juniper Networks customers to move to a hybrid cloud

Not to state the obvious, but the cloud has been growing in popularity over the past decade. However, contrary to much of the rhetoric I hear about today, the cloud is not going to kill of private data centers any time soon. The explosion in data has driven growth in both private data centers and public clouds.

Underscoring that point is that almost all the IT leaders I speak to plan to do some kind of hybrid cloud where they leverage the strengths of both.

The cloud is a new compute model, but what’s different about it from other compute paradigms before it is that it is highly network centric. Everyone loves the cloud. It’s great, it’s elastic and a bunch of other things. But it won’t provide the results companies are looking for without the right network underneath it. 

+ Also on Network World: How to make hybrid cloud work +

This week Juniper extended its Unite framework to help customers build a cloud-ready data center network. Juniper introduced Unite in 2015 as a framework for campus network and later announced the cloud-enabled branch and the data center creates the third leg of its Unite stool. 

To support the framework, Juniper is introducing a new switch. The QFX5110 is a Broadcom Trident II based top of rack (ToR) series, which I believe are the first ToRs with 100 Gig-E uplinks. These switches pack a massive amount of throughput, ranging from 1.76 to 2.56 Tbps. The QFX5110-32Q has 32 40 Gig-E ports and the QFX5110-48S has 48 10 Gig-E ports. 

The management software comes from its Network Director 3.0, which can be thought of as an “easy button” to get the products configured and up and running. It provides management of multiple data centers with EVPN and overlay support with VXLAN at layer 2. It also provides management of Junos Fusion for data center and enterprise networks using layer 3 IP fabrics. 

The relationship between Unite and Fusion can be confusing. The easiest way to think of it is that Unite is an overarching framework for campus, branch and data center, and Fusion is the architecture for deployment. 

Unite was designed to help customers move to an environment where hybrid and multi-cloud are the norm so workloads and data can be moved between, for example, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and Salesforce. This is certainly a nice vision, but getting there can be difficult. 

4 pillars of Juniper Networks' Unite

Unite provides four key pillars to help its customers build this: 

  1. Security. Like so many vendors today, Juniper wants to be the single enforcement point policies. The company is moving to a model where every element of the cloud “stack” can be secured and the policies enforced at the network.
  2. Automation. Juniper automation is enabled through its Junos software. It has open APIs that can interface with programming languages and orchestration tools such as Chef, Puppet, Python and others. Also, Juniper has created northbound APIs in its Network and Security Directors, enabling interoperability with OpenStack, Kubernetes, VMware and other infrastructure vendors.
  3. Analytics and machine learning. Having data is one thing, but being able to interpret it provides significantly more value. Juniper now has the ability to gather streamed telemetry information and then analyze it with the machine learning engine it got when it acquired AppFormix.
  4. Intent-based networking. This is something Juniper has been talking about for a while. Instead of having to configure things at a switch level, Juniper has implemented an intent-based system where an administrator could issue the command “Create red and blue virtual networks,” and the network could interpret that and place all endpoints tagged blue in one network and red in another.

Over the past several years Juniper’s position has had some ups and downs. Its strength has always been solving tough networking problems and helping its customers through those challenges. The Unite framework is a solid, prescriptive way for Juniper customers to move to a hybrid cloud.

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