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Juniper CEO Rahim talks network, security and multicloud trends

Oct 05, 20184 mins
Juniper NetworksNetworkingSDN

Multicloud, 5G, high-speed Ethernet, SDN developments are on the mind of Juniper CEO Rami Rahim

Juniper CEO Rami Rahim is shepherding a number of key transitions for the company. Juniper made a big bet on 400G Ethernet this summer, detailing how it plans to transition its wide-area network, data center and enterprise portfolio to 400G Ethernet. And earlier this year, Juniper released its Contrail Enterprise Multicloud software, an SDN controller that is the central component of its multicloud, intent-based networking strategy.

Ahead of its NXTWORK annual customer and partner summit next week, Rahim talked with Network World’s Michael Cooney about trends and directions for the networking vendor, as Rahim aims to position Juniper more strongly against chief competitors such as Cisco, Arista, HPE, and Huawei.

What do you think are the top three trends that might influence the networking world in the next year or so?

There’s no way to get around the biggest trend, and that is the tectonic shift to cloud and multicloud. I am not just talking about the hyperscale users either. I am talking telcos and enterprises. It’s a sign of the times that every CIO is trying to take advantage of a multicloud environment, whether it’s to build out an infrastructure to handle it or deploy an overlay or underlay – they just cannot do it by themselves. That’s why we have so heavily invested in multicloud connectivity and software services development. 

The second one is the move to 5G. Overall we don’t think 5G technologies will go mainstream until next year, but the preparation for it is well underway. Cloud services and providers are developing the infrastructure and capacity to take advantage of 5G now. (See also: How enterprises can prep for 5G)

Security would be the third, and what we are seeing is the trend of customers tying together networks and security technologies to develop more effective policies to block malware and protect the enterprise against threats better than ever before. Users are leveraging the network to protect everything from the cloud, WAN and local resources by using analytics to see where threats are coming from and developing policies to block attacks much more efficiently.

In Juniper’s last round of financials, security products did well, but I believe you said the portfolio still needs a refresh. … Can you talk a bit about that and what customers might expect in the next year or so?

Right, our overall security, our business grew 16% year-over-year, representing a third consecutive quarter of year-over-year growth. Our SDSN [Software-Defined Secure Network, Juniper’s overarching security platform] is resonating with those users I mentioned before that want to more closely tie security and networking. Our SRX [firewalls] have seen meaningful upgrades recently, and you continue to see buildup on all of these things to better handle the demands of network and security policies. The area that needs a refresh is the high end, where we want to have a security firewall capable of handling vast amounts of traffic.

Can you talk about Juniper’s strategy for 400G Ethernet? How soon do you think 400G will actually have an impact?

We are betting big on the transition to 400G Ethernet. It’s a technology we see growing rapidly in the next couple years. Primary use cases we see are data center internetworking and backbone upgrades, and hyperscalers as well as cloud providers and telcos. Video will be a big driver of course. As soon as 400G optics become more cost effective – which we expect by the end of 2019 – than running four 100G pipes, that’s when we expect it to take off. It won’t be a forklift upgrade for customers. 

How are advanced technologies such as software defined networking and intent-based networking influencing Juniper’s network plans and strategies (via Contrail Enterprise Multicloud or other hardware/software products)?

We see SDN as the key technology to linking the multicloud environment. SDN isn’t about moving packets, it’s about the ability to simplify the growing, highly distributed resources customers are dealing with now. It helps enable and simplify distributed operations and develop a single logical pool of data. Our Contrail Controller, for example, uses SDN to handle orchestration and automation, all without requiring the customer to be a rocket scientist to do it.