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Juniper touts cloud-ready data center, AI, automation

News Analysis
Aug 12, 20214 mins
Cloud ManagementNetworking

Juniper’s chief operating officer Manoj Leelanivas sees AI and automation as leading a change in network architecture.

Credit: Automation-Innovation

Enterprise networks are focused on buying full-stack offerings that include key software components such as management, automation and AI but also routing, switching and security rather than a piecemeal approach.

That trend is being driven by a post-COVID rethinking of network architecture but also the need to simplify the network and access to cloud resources, says  Juniper Networks’ chief operating officer Manoj Leelanivas

Manoj Leelanivas, executive vice president and chief product officer at Juniper Juniper Networks

Manoj Leelanivas

“The idea that customers have to have a way to manage everything from the cloud is a big change for many enterprises, and the enterprise has changed,” Leelanivas said.  “We have many more micro-sites, remote users, and branches that need to be managed. It really has become a network of diverse environments, which can increase complexity for large enterprises.”

For Juniper, as well as other big players on the networking gridiron like Cisco, VMware, HPE/Aruba and others, these trends are both a challenge and an opportunity. 

For now at least, Juniper is taking advantage of the opportunity with its cloud-ready data center, which includes its software, hardware, and management products, and whose revenue increased 28% year-over-year. Its AI-driven enterprise revenue increased 28% over last year, the company reported in its recent 2Q earnings statement. In addition, Juniper’s total software and related services revenue was $143 million, an increase of 59% year-over-year, the company reported. 

“We have now put together a framework that lets customers bring up thousands of multivendor networked devices very quickly—a task that was very difficult and time-consuming in the past—and use our Apstra software to manage and secure that environment,” Leelanivas said.

Purchased by Juniper in in December 2020, Apstra keeps a real-time repository of configuration, telemetry, and validation information to constantly ensure the network is doing what the customer wants it to do. The software also includes automation features to provide consistent network and security policies for workloads across physical and virtual infrastructures. Its intent-based analytics perform regular network checks to safeguard configurations and is hardware agnostic so it can be integrated to work with products from Cisco, Arista, Dell, Microsoft, and Nvidia/Cumulus.

Most recently Juniper released of Apstra 4.0, with enhanced intent-based networking capabilities and new customizable network templates with the goal of letting customers  more easily add devices and workloads as they need to, Juniper stated. 

In the future the company intends to bring additional support for AIops, automation and other features that more efficiently run and more quickly spot problems and remediate them, Leelanivas said.

AI support is another area Juniper looks to expand.  The technology is already at the heart of Juniper’s key software systems, including its core AI-based Mist and its smart engine Marvis, as well as its wired and wireless Assurance platforms. 

Last year the company added WAN Assurance, a cloud-based service that gathers telemetry data from Juniper SRX, Contrail and other WAN gear and passes it to Marvis. Marvis understands what’s normal activity on the network, looks for anomalies, and offers suggestions to fix problems and ensure WAN service levels. In many cases Marvis can respond without human intervention, Juniper says.

“We can now collect data from any position on the network and gain insight for our AI that lets it proactively stay ahead of problems and solve problems with a minimum of human interaction—that’s what AI and Assurance brings,” Leelanivas said.

Customers can also utilize the Session Smart software Juniper bought when it purchased 128 Technology.  Session Smart 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.

In combination with Marvis, Session Smart can identify traffic patterns in different locations, with different devices or different application usage and automatically address problems or makes recommendations to a network manager. This application has tons of potential as support for the hybrid workforce going forward, Juniper says.

“The focus is to get as many things connected to cloud as quickly and securely as possible,” Leelanivas said. “In the end it’s all about improving operational efficiency.”