The Numbers Don’t Lie: Apstra Delivers Major Savings in Data Center Operations

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By Michael Bushong, VP of Data Center Product Management at Juniper Networks.

At Juniper Networks, we know that Juniper Apstra provides superior benefits to customers over the entire data center lifecycle, from Day 0 design and planning, to Day 1 deployment, through Day 2+ and ongoing operations. The problem? An assertion coming from a vendor sounds too salesy, even if our suspicions are right. So, we ran a detailed analysis through a third party, and it turns out, if anything, the results suggest we’ve been underselling the value Apstra can deliver. This blog is designed to walk through the findings. The conclusion? Those that aren’t shortlisting Juniper in the data center are likely leaving money – and capability – on the table.

We asked Forrester Research to conduct an exhaustive economic analysis of real-world businesses using Apstra in real-world data centers. Forrester’s Total Economic Impact™ (TEI) study reveals that Apstra does indeed improve data center operations across multiple dimensions. But more than winning positive reviews, it delivers concrete cost savings—to the tune of a 320 percent Return on Investment (ROI) over the first three years of deployment. Beyond mere cost avoidance, Apstra frees up resources from the day-to-day toil to help businesses prepare for overall growth.

Inside the Study

To create the TEI study, Forrester interviewed decision makers with four Juniper customers about their experience with Apstra. Companies ranged in size and industry, from a European service provider with four major data centers to a global energy firm that has 13. Prior to automating their multi-vendor networks with Apstra, however, they all complained of similar problems:

  • Inefficient design processes that made setting up or scaling data centers painfully slow
  • Complex, manual configuration tasks that required specialized, vendor-specific skills
  • Inconsistencies in network device configurations that impacted reliability and, in turn, limited operational speed and agility

Forrester collected extensive data around these issues and the effects of Apstra intent-based automation on customers’ data center operations. They then aggregated the results into a composite organization to quantify those changes. The following sections highlight some of the results.

The Juniper Apstra Advantage

Apstra is built to be different than other automation platforms. Rather than focusing on one vendor’s devices, or one set of operational tasks, Apstra is broad-based and multi-vendor by design. In theory, this should allow customers to more easily manage multi-vendor data center networks at scale, without being limited by any vendor’s proprietary requirements. According to the report, here’s what customers found in practice:

  • Day-0 network design: Using Apstra templates and building blocks to create new data centers or expand their footprint, customers were able to reduce scoping and design time requirements by 60 percent. This translated to savings of more than $73,000.
  • Day-1 implementation: Using Apstra’s simple point-and-click interface, customers were able to configure switches, test deployment scenarios, validate cabling and document deployments much more quickly and easily. Where organizations previously needed about 24 hours per device to deploy in a data center, now they need just two—saving more than $72,000.
  • Day-2+ ongoing operations: Customers found that Apstra automated many previously manual operational tasks while improving visibility. They now had a “single source of truth” for the full environment, instead of having to swivel between multiple vendor-specific troubleshooting and management tools. In all, customers were able to provide the same level of service with 60 percent fewer personnel-hours per year— savings of $448,000 in the first three years.
  • Legacy tool replacement: Since Apstra supports multi-vendor networks and full lifecycle operations—from design through monitoring and maintenance—customers were able to forego other management tools. On average, Apstra replaced two legacy tools per customer—saving $358,000. One customer remarked, “Our old solution did basically the same thing that Apstra does. The problem was that it was massive. First, the controller itself required a lot of resources. The other thing was that it was too complicated…”.

Altogether, Forrester found that Apstra delivered present value (PV) benefits totaling $952,000 over three years on total costs of $227,000. That adds up to a net present value (NPV) of $725,000—or 320 percent ROI for a typical customer.

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Beyond the Numbers

If we’re focused only on the goal of operational efficiencies and person-hours reductions, then we’re thinking too narrowly. For a healthy business, revenue growth should outpace growth in operational spend. The case for change to be made to company leadership must be about growing more efficiently and supporting business objectives to build top-line growth.

The Forrester analysis demonstrated conclusively that Apstra delivers concrete operational savings in multi-vendor data centers. But the in-depth decision-maker interviews revealed a long list of other benefits as well—benefits that can’t always be specifically quantified but were just as important to customers. These include:

  • Opportunity cost savings: Organizations want to attract and retain the best engineers – especially because work-from-anywhere means anyone can be poached by the big cloudy companies at any moment. To make the network engineering job better, start by reducing the toil, freeing people up to work on things that are more important and, if we’re being honest, more interesting.

One of the biggest benefits customers cited in this study was the simplicity of Apstra’s point-and-click interface: “We don’t need to ask a network engineer to have previous experience with each device type…because all they’re doing is clicking.” This not only enabled users to perform tasks more quickly, but it also meant that junior-level personnel could handle a much larger range of tasks. No longer did customers have to devote highly skilled engineers to mundane day-to-day operations. They could assign those tasks to personnel without vendor-specific knowledge or certifications, and move their experts to more strategic, higher-value roles. In a job market where skilled network engineers keep getting harder and more expensive to find, that’s a huge advantage.

  • Multi-vendor flexibility: Recent supply chain disruptions have taught us that having a single supplier is having a single point of failure. Unless organizations are willing to outsource their company’s future to vendors, then they should at least try to preserve some leverage. The challenge is obvious: if every solution has an operating cost, then costs grow linearly with the number of suppliers. Instead, Apstra unifies operations over diverse underlying infrastructure. With Apstra, customers can make their suppliers compete, allowing them to let the physics or the economics determine the right fit for their needs. Over time, this is the only sensible strategy to both mitigate risk and maintain economic control over the business.

One Apstra customer told Forrester that the ability to use a single tool to manage devices from multiple vendors contributed to significant downstream business benefits. First, customers could more easily add new vendors to their data centers, increasing their bargaining power in vendor negotiations. Managing multiple vendors with one tool also reduced training costs and timelines. Critically, customers gained new sourcing flexibility—which has proved enormously valuable in navigating global supply chain disruptions. If a customer was deploying a new data center, for example, and their primary vendor couldn’t deliver switches for another twelve months, they could now source form an alternate vendor that could deliver sooner, without disrupting deployment processes.

  • Improved reliability and speed: The byproducts of reliability are speed and efficiency. Indeed, if organizations know it will work every time without fail, then they can move quickly and without the organizational overhead. It’s counterintuitive, but by not focusing on speed, they get faster. By not focusing on efficiency, they streamline operations.

Forrester noted that the ability to use out-of-the box templates and push consistent configurations across the multi-vendor network, all from a centralized controller, gave customers more standardized environments. “We had always struggled with configuration consistency… Using a tool like Apstra with a centralized controller that pushes very standardized configurations, there is little chance for somebody to mess that up…” This significantly improved operational consistency and repeatability, reducing errors and enabling customers to move more quickly. In all, customers said they could stand up a new data center or scale an existing one in about half the time using Apstra compared to their previous mode of operation. 

Dare to Find Out What Apstra Can Do for Your Business?

When it comes to operating a data center, be bold. We dare you to discover the radical improvements our customers have experienced with Apstra.

With Juniper, customers can push a change to product on a Friday and make plans on a Saturday with their families because they know they’re safe.

They can buy another vendor’s equipment and run it under third-party management without fear.

They can hire someone and let them make a production change within one week of joining the company.

They can try to configure something they know won’t work and see if the system allows them to do it – or not.

For the full Apstra economic analysis, download the Forrester TEI report now. Or better yet, Juniper can build a model customized for your environment and take you through the numbers. Whether you’re looking for qualitative or quantitative benefits, you’ll find that Apstra delivers.


Mike is VP of Data Center Product Management at Juniper Networks. Mike spent 12 years at Juniper in a previous tour of duty, running product management, strategy, and marketing for Junos Software. In that role, he was responsible for driving Juniper's automation ambitions and incubating efforts across emerging technology spaces (notably SDN, NFV, virtualization, portable network OS, and DevOps). After the first Juniper stint, Mike joined datacenter switching startup Plexxi as the head of marketing. In that role, he was named a top social media personality for SDN. Most recently, Mike was responsible for Brocade's datacenter business as VP of Datacenter Routing and Switching, and then Brocade's software business as VP of Product Management, Software Networking.


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