Juniper Unveils Broad SDN Strategy, Challenges Cisco, HP, Others
The second step is removing networking and security services from the networking hardware by creating virtual machines to run these services, enabling the services to scale while using industry-standard x86 systems. Muglia pointed to Juniper's JunosV App Engine, a software virtualization platform that will be available in the first quarter and will be licensed through the vendor's new Juniper Software Advantage licensing approach. Leveraging a central controller is the third step, the executives said. A controller will enable the services to connect across the devices in the network, which Muglia called "SDN service chaining." Such chaining capabilities will come in 2014 via the controller technology Juniper inherited through the Contrail acquisition and the JunosV App Engine. The final step focuses on the hardware, which will be a key to delivering high performance throughout the network. Optimizing the security and networking hardware could mean more than 10 times better performance in networking tasks, and Muglia said Juniper will continue to evolve its MX Series and SRX Series products to eventually support the SDN service chaining concept. The plans will give Juniper an advantage over competitors in the growing SDN space, Muglia said, adding that the company has "an SDN strategy that's independent of others in the industry." However, he also said that open standards and interoperability will be key factors in SDNs going forward, and that Juniper already is working with various other vendors—from BigSwitch to IBM to VMware and Nicira—in pushing open-standard protocols.In a whiteboard meeting last month with journalists, Martin Casado, CTO of Nicira, said that after developing OpenFlow and initially basing Nicira around it, he came to the conclusion that it is the virtual switches in hypervisors—such as VMware's vSwitches—that are the best solutions for enabling more automation and programmability of network infrastructures.
OpenFlow will be one of those protocols, but not the most important one, Muglia said. OpenFlow has been at the heart of the SDN movement over the past year, but a growing number of vendors—such as Cisco and, now, Juniper—are saying that SDN and network virtualization are much more than that single protocol.