Juniper’s Next-Gen MX Routers Designed for 5G Wireless, IoT, SDN-WANs

The latest generation of Juniper’s networking gear will bring programmability and flexibility designed to handle the services that will come with such emerging technologies as 5G wireless and the internet of things.

Juniper Network officials are putting greater programmability and flexibility into the latest generation of the company’s MX Series routers to address the unknowns that will invariably arise from 5G wireless, the internet of things, software-defined WAN services and other emerging network technologies.

The new MX Series 5G Universal Routing Platform, introduced this week, includes Juniper’s new Penta Silicon chip for improved programmability, 5G Control and User Plane Separation (CUPS) software for hardware acceleration to drive performance and scalability, and the MX10008 and MX10016 Universal Chassis, which bring similar capabilities for the vendor’s PTX and QFX product lines.

The enhancements are designed to give enterprises and service providers an agile platform to handle the handle what is coming from 5G networks and the internet of things (IoT), which will bring a lot of challenges that might not yet be apparent to many organizations at this point, according to Sally Bament, vice president of marketing at Juniper. They know that 5G will bring significantly greater speed and capacity to networks than 4G and that the IoT will include tens of billions of connected devices within a few years.

“But just as important are the unknowns—and the key here lies in the ability to adapt to new services, new user expectations, new networking protocols and more,” Bament wrote in a post on the company blog. “Protecting against the unknowns means leveraging an adaptable, flexible and programmable routing platform,” adding that 5G, IoT and SD-WAN will lead to an array of new services.

“These services have the potential to unlock great opportunity for operators looking to move beyond just connectivity for their customers. But just like it was nearly impossible before 2007 to predict the rise of smartphones, we can’t say with 100 percent confidence today that we’re aware of every implication that these and other services will have on the networks powering them,” Bament wrote.

Analysts with VDC Research are forecasting that the rise of 5G and the IoT will drive rapid growth in the market for edge infrastructure hardware. According to the analysts, the market will grow from $2.7 billion this year to $6.9 billion by 2022.

Dan Mandell, senior analyst of IoT and embedded technology at VDC, said in a statement that the “network edge has emerged as the most dynamic and valuable element of connected solution architecture. New hardware solutions are enabling unprecedented computing performance as well as multi-tenant applications and services delivery for end users.”

Infrastructure is also on the minds of service providers, according to a Juniper poll, which found that 55 percent of respondents said the cost of building out the infrastructure was among their top two challenges, while 40 percent said it was the complexity involve with orchestrating a distributed network. Data plane programmability was among the top two desired feature sets for 55 percent of respondents.

Juniper officials said the combination of the capabilities in the enhanced routers with the company’s Contrail automation and software management overlay, MX’s Spring subscriber management and the vendor’s performance monitoring telemetry data enable organizations to easily build and scale any service across distributed cloud environments.

Juniper’s Penta Silicon delivers three times the bandwidth per slot for the MX960, MX480 and MX240 5G routers, provides integrated MACsec and IPsex encryption and drives security across 5G, IoT and cloud connections, according to Juniper’s Bament. Juniper contends that through CUPS the routers offer hardware acceleration that enables service providers to see three to four times the efficiency at scale than a virtualized CUPS implementation,

The universal chassis is designed to support a full spectrum of networking use cases across data center IP fabrics, WAN backbones and, with the introduction of MX Series-specific line cards, service-rich edge applications,” she wrote, saying that offering a single chassis across multiple use cases simplifies company operations by up to 80 percent.

“The first generation [of MX routers] simply solved the network-connectivity issue,” Bament wrote. “The second generation then extended the reach of those networks. The third generation introduced carrier-grade reliability and today’s fourth generation routers converge business, residential and infrastructure services into a single platform. Now, the 5th generation is designed to enable businesses to join the cloud era by economically delivering next-generation and secure service performance at scale,” Bament stated in the blog.

The MX10008 and MX100016 chassis will be available in the second half of the year, while the Penta Silicon-powered line cards for the MX960, MX480 and MX240 routers will be released in the first quarter 2019. New CUPS support will come in the first half of next year.