Network connectivity and security continue to be challenges in branch offices, and Juniper Network officials are looking to the cloud to help solve them.
The company has unveiled its Cloud-Enabled Branch initiative that brings together an array of capabilities—from software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) and routing to security features like next-generation firewall functionality—into what officials call a "networking server" that also can support third-party software that can run on the x86 architecture.
The NFX Series Network Service Platform is the server that includes networking interfaces that pull together the functions of multiple appliances onto a single device, and comes with zero-touch provisioning capabilities that enable enterprises to rapidly deploy new branches in a matter of minutes rather than days, according to Mike Marcellin, chief marketing officer at Juniper.
In addition, Juniper's SRX and vSRX Series services gateways can implement a range of security capabilities, from unified threat management services and next-generation firewalls to dynamic threat defense and intelligence. Security features also come through Juniper's Sky Advanced Prevention, Spotlight Secure and Junos Space Security Director technologies.
The Cloud-Enabled Branch—part of the vendor's Unite enterprise cloud architecture, which was announced last year—is designed to address the need to reduce the complexity of branch networks through automation and the cloud while addressing security concerns. In a post on the company blog, Marcellin noted that human error accounts for 52 percent of security breaches in enterprise networks, due to the complexity of those networks and manual processes needed to manage them, and the fact that many employees download and run applications that aren't sanctioned by their companies and might expose the networks to exploits and vulnerabilities.
"Dealing with these vulnerabilities is difficult enough in an enterprise campus, but they multiply exponentially as the network expands to include branch locations," he wrote. "To maintain operations, enterprises must cloud-enable these branches by adopting an agile, automated, and scalable network approach that delivers complete, end-to-end security."
That's where Juniper's Cloud-Enabled Branch, which was introduced last week, comes in, Marcellin wrote. It's designed to offer a suite of solutions that can enable enterprises to accelerate the deployment of such services as SD-WAN functionality across branch offices through greater automation, zero-touch provisioning and an open platform.
Through SD-WAN, businesses can lower the cost and improve the performance of running applications by enabling the use of various transport modes that are best suited for the workload. Centralized automation and orchestration also is enabled, with network services being delivered via the central data center or at the branch on Juniper's NFX250 and SRX300 gateways. In addition, third-party applications and services can also be supported. Juniper officials noted Silver Peak's CRX virtual appliance for WAN optimization and the Virtual Smartzone Controller from Ruckus Wireless—which is being bought by Brocade—can also run on the architecture.
Branch offices are becoming increasingly important to enterprises. A recent survey by market research firm ZK Research found that 81 percent of workers are in branch offices. Juniper officials said the Unite architecture enables businesses to create branch networks that are agile, scalable and secure and can be deployed on demand.
"Juniper has tapped two decades of networking expertise and a thorough understanding of enterprise needs to develop a new Cloud-Enabled Branch solution that lets enterprises utilize various network links for implementing different cloud applications in their branch locations," Marcellin wrote.