Juniper's new products help prepare networks for hybrid, multi-cloud

Updates to Juniper's portfolio allow customers to upgrade their network to keep up with bandwidth demands, then transition to a more cloudy business when they are ready.

Juniper's new products help prepare networks for hybrid, multi-cloud
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Earlier this week, Juniper Networks announced a bevvy of new networking products. (Note: Juniper Networks is a client of ZK Research.) In his blog post about the products, Andy Patrizio did an effective job covering the basics of the news. But left out some important points, and I wanted to make sure those got called out, including Juniper's tagline “multi-cloud ready."  

Hybrid, multi-cloud is inevitable 

As I’ve pointed out in many of my posts, hybrid multi-cloud environments are inevitable for most organizations. Small businesses may be able to build an IT strategy that is all public cloud, but any large company is going to choose a mix of private and public clouds.

The reality for those large companies, though, is no matter how great their desire to achieve the utopian state of hybrid, multi-cloud, they just aren't ready to make that leap. These cycles can take a long time and will require some combination of infrastructure upgrades, organization realignment, skills retraining and new technologies.

The updates to Juniper’s portfolio allow customers to upgrade their network today to keep up with bandwidth demands, and then gracefully transition to a more cloudy business when they are ready. Juniper CTO Bikash Koley talked about this challenge at length at the company’s NXTWORK user conference held at the end of 2017, and now the company is backing up that talk with some products.

Juniper's new products provide flexibility, options 

Juniper switches continue to evolve, but the underlying strength of them remains its software, Junos, as it creates flexibility and options for customers. For example, Juniper introduced some new data center products.

On the surface, the QFX1002 spine switch, which has 60x100 Gig-E ports looks similar to the QFX5210 switch with 64x100 Gig-E ports. Other than four more ports, what’s the difference? The QFX10002 is built on Juniper silicon and is optimized for deep buffers, whereas the 5210 uses Broadcom and is a bit cheaper and meant for shallow buffer. I won’t get into the benefits of deep buffers. For those interested, Juniper’s Praful Lalchandani does a nice job highlighting the benefits in this post.

The different silicon families (Juniper also runs on Intel Atom) underscores the flexibility that Junos brings its customers. Customers can leverage the different products where needed but have a single set of scripts, automation tools, management platforms, etc.  The value of the single platform also extends outside the data center, as it makes it easier to manage the network as a whole.

In the past, I’ve felt that the “single OS” story was a solution looking for a problem because customers rarely told me they cared if their branch equipment had the same OS as their data center. That was because the various places in the network were managed in silos. Today, that’s changed, and network professionals are looking at the network more holistically, so the common architecture and management capabilities make a difference.

Juniper's new data center products

There are a couple of other new data center products worth calling out. The first is the Broadcom based QFX5200, which has native 25 Gig-E support. Juniper had 25 Gig-E products before but required breakout cables, which can be messy and are not ideal.  

Another new data center product is the QFX MACsec line card that enables encrypted communications between locations. Companies looking to create dual data centers to power their private cloud will find this valuable.

Patrizio's post also mentioned the updates to the branch portfolio, so I won’t go into those in detail. Like the data center products, the branch ones are designed to address the needs of today but provide the flexibility to go cloud later. Customers can manage the products via the Contrail SD-WAN controller or from a new cloud management tool called Sky Enterprise. Cloud management is becoming increasingly more popular was was a hole in Juniper's product line has now been filled.

Juniper's new campus products

Juniper also announced several new campus products that were not included in Patrizio’s post. These products can also be managed via the Sky Enterprise cloud management tool. Sky also supports Aerohive WiFi access points, building on the strong partnership between the two companies.

Sky isn’t meant to replace Aerohive’s HiveManager. Instead think of it as “HiveManager lite,” which provides visibility across the wired and wireless access edge. The new EX2300 and 4300 brings multi-gig capabilities to the Juniper campus product line. 

Juniper is certainly late to the multi-gig party, but I suspect we won’t see a significant uptake of it until 802.11ax APs are out, so it should be able to catch up relatively quickly.

Juniper has been pushing the “operational simplicity” message for the better part of the past two years. Making the shift to the cloud requires a highly agile network, but also one that is easier to manage. The flexibility and automation capabilities that Junos brings enables customers to solve bandwidth and operational problems today, as well as sets them up to move to a multi-cloud model when their company is ready.   

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