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Juniper extends AI to SD-WAN technology, unveils secure-access switch

News Analysis
Feb 24, 20213 mins

Juniper integrates 128 Technology's Session Smart software with its Mist AI-based cloud management family.

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Juniper Networks continues to integrate and expand its portfolio of cloud-based, AI-driven services that are aimed at helping customers manage and control enterprise networks. 

At the core of those services is technology Juniper gained in its acquisition of wireless and AI software maker Mist in 2019 for $405 million. Mist’s technology includes an AI-based engine called Marvis that uses machine learning to automatically identify, adapt to, and fix network issues. 

The natural language-based Marvis engine is at the core of multiple Juniper services, including its Wi-Fi Assurance offering, which measures performance and service-level metrics for wireless networks; Wired Assurance, which taps into Juniper’s network routers and switches to gather telemetry data that measures network performance; and WAN Assurance, a cloud-based service that will gather telemetry data from Juniper SRX, Contrail and other WAN gear and pass that information to Marvis.

Marvis can understand what’s normal activity on the network, look for anomalies, and offer suggestions to fix problems and ensure WAN service levels. In many cases, Marvis can respond without human intervention, Juniper says.

On top of those existing services, Juniper has now brought in the SD-WAN technology it acquired from 128 Technology in December for $450 million. 128’s key technology is its Session Smart software that promises to reduce the costs of running SD-WAN and WANs by making intelligent routing decisions based on sessions and application needs over individual traditional tunnels.

The 128 software can run on white-box customer premises equipment (CPE). According to 128, the software, which features built-in zero-trust security capabilities, can also be run in virtualized hosted private clouds and in public clouds including Amazon Web Services, Azure, or Google Cloud Platform for providing secure cloud on-ramps. For deployment in private clouds, the software works with a number of cloud management platforms including OpenStack and VMware’s vCloud Director.

“Customers can now bring telemetry data from Session Smart Routers into the Mist AI engine, which lets them set, monitor and enforce service levels across the WAN, proactively detect anomalies, and gain enhanced insight into WAN conditions,” said Jeff Aaron, vice president of enterprise marketing at Juniper Networks. 

Marvis can then troubleshoot Session Smart SD-WAN environments using natural-language queries and take proactive actions to correct issues before they impact the user, Aaron said.

In addition to tying the 128 tech to its Mist engine, Juniper enabled its SRX Series secure branch gateways to be onboarded and configured using Mist AI and the cloud. Juniper customers can now handle simple branch router and security connectivity operations via the same platform as wired and wireless access, which streamlines operations and lowers operational costs, Aaron said.

Juniper also expanded its switch portfolio with the 1RU, 912Gbps EX4400 secure access switch. The switch lets users extend network fabrics from the data center to the campus and features integrated security capabilities such as MACsec AES256 and standards-based microsegmentation features using group-based policies, Juniper stated. 

When tied into the Mist cloud, EX4400 customers can set up and manage wired access networks and troubleshoot problems like misconfigured VLANs or bad cables quickly, Aaron said. They can also centrally assign security policies, he said.

The EX4400 will be available in March.