IBM and Juniper Networks are partnering to help service providers and enterprises get a better understanding of what's happening on their networks and how they can improve the end-user experience.
The vendors will combine hardware and software offerings, injecting IBM's broad analytics capabilities into Juniper's networking gear to give communications service providers (CSPs) and businesses the tools they need to optimize their network operations, more efficiently run their environments, more quickly spin out cloud-based services and manage the increased applications demands that are coming due to such trends as mobility, big data and the Internet of things (IoT).
The joint solution will include integrating Juniper's MX Router Service Control Gateway (SCG) and Contrail software-defined networking (SDN) controller with IBM's Now Factory analytics software. Service providers and enterprises will have greater visibility into user behaviors on the network and will be able to configure and optimize the networks accordingly. Using IBM analytics software also will enable the Juniper networking gear to automatically adapt to user trends, according to officials with the companies.
In addition, IBM also will integrate its analytics solutions into Juniper's Cloud Analytic Engine and network switches to improve the user experience and application performance, while also addressing issues in such areas as latency before they become problems.
"Integrating predictive analytics directly into the stream of data processing—and embedding it into the network of CSPs—will help to ensure the reliability of the network and improve customer engagement," Bob Picciano, senior vice president of IBM Analytics, said in a statement. "Juniper Networks' focus on cloud-based analytics complements IBM's strategy to apply analytics capabilities to help organizations sense, predict and respond to opportunities."
The rapid transition to greater mobility and connectivity—almost half of the world's population is connected to the Internet—and the expected growth in the IoT are putting more pressure on service providers and businesses to make their networks more scalable, agile, programmable and dynamic. End users are looking for continuous connectivity and cloud services that can span across any devices, the officials said.
A good user experience will be key to the success of a CSP or enterprise. Being able to capture and analyze the huge amounts of data being generated, and then acting quickly on that data, is becoming increasingly important, according to Jonathan Davidson, executive vice president and general manager of development and innovation at Juniper.
"These analytics capabilities will deliver new levels of insight into the behavior and performance of our enterprise and service provider customers' applications and networks," Davidson said in a statement.
IBM and Juniper aren't the first to see the promise of self-optimizing networks, according to Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT. Others in the networking space have spent millions of dollars to bolster their capabilities in the area—such as Cisco Systems buying Intucell for $475 million in 2013—and the growth of the IoT will further fuel development, King said in a research note on the IBM-Juniper partnership.
A key difference for IBM and Juniper is that they're looking to enable CSPs to leverage the data collected not only to optimize their networks, but also to improve the user experience.
"While it's fair to say that IBM and Juniper aren't the first to find seats at the network optimization table, both bring considerable assets and talents to the task," King wrote. "Overall, IBM and Juniper Networks' new initiative appears to bode well for everyone involved. The two companies seem well-disposed to one another, and their individual solutions are highly complementary. Existing customers like CSPs will find much to like, and over time we expect the effort to result in a solid portfolio of IoT-related solutions."