Juniper Launches MetaFabric Network Architecture, Switches

The new offerings are aimed at cloud computing environments, which need to be able to move applications easily between data centers.

Juniper Networks is introducing a new networking architecture that combines various products, solutions and services from the company that will make it easier for organizations to move applications and data not only around a data center but between data centers.

The capabilities found in the new MetaFabric offering are increasingly important to cloud providers and other companies that run multiple data centers in disparate locations and want to move their applications and network resources between them, according to Jonathan Davidson, senior vice president and general manager of Juniper's Data Center Business Unit.

"Businesses have the need to move to an on-demand architecture," Davidson told eWEEK, adding that the MetaFabric enables them to embrace such an architecture without having to replace their existing infrastructures.

In addition to MetaFabric, the vendor on Oct. 29 also introduced a new lineup of top-of-rack switches, the QFX5100 family, that is one of the foundations of the new architecture.

MetaFabric comes two years after Juniper rolled out its QFabric switching platform, which was designed to collapse the data center networking infrastructure from the traditional three layers into a single layer, simplifying the overall network and making it easier to deploy, manage and scale. The technology was praised by analysts, but sales reportedly did not meet company expectations. It also was more of a platform for networks within data centers, while MetaFabric works both within and between data centers.

The new architecture essentially combines QFabric with Juniper switches—both the QFX line and the EX family—MX routers (with new software-defined networking and WAN capabilities), SRX security solutions and the Contrail SDN controller, which the company launched in September. The company also announced that Contrail will support VMware's ESXi hypervisor, expanding the controller's capabilities in virtualized environments. In addition, businesses using MetaFabric can connect their Juniper systems directly to OpenStack and CloudStack open-source orchestration platforms as well as SDN controllers, including Contrail and VMware's new NSX.

With the MX routers, organizations not only can use the MX Series 3D Universal Edge Routers as SDN gateways to connect physical and virtual networks, but Juniper also has added support for Ethernet VPNs to move applications and data across the WAN, according to company officials.

Juniper has released MetaFabric Reference Architecture 1.0 to businesses running VMware virtualized data centers. The reference architecture includes Juniper's routers, switches and security solutions, as well as systems from EMC, VMware and IBM running Microsoft applications. The company also offers professional services around the new architecture.

Key to the new QFX5100 family of switches are the new management capabilities within the Junos operating system and Junos Space Network Director, which the company announced in April for managing wired and wireless networks, as well as virtual and physical networks, from a central point, Juniper's Davidson said. Juniper also offers Network Director APIs, which enable zero-touch provisioning and orchestration with OpenStack, CloudStack, Puppet and Chef.

The QFX5100 switches, for Gigabit Ethernet, 10GbE and 40GbE environments, can be deployed within a range of fabric architectures, which enables businesses to use them within their existing networking infrastructures. They also support existing Juniper infrastructures, including Virtual Chassis and QFabric, and can scale from two to 128 nodes. In addition, the switches support newer architectures such as Juniper's Virtual Chassis Fabric and, because they leverage open interfaces, can support leaf/spine, Layer 3-based designs and other fabric architectures.

Virtual Chassis Fabric can be combined with various Juniper switches—including the QFX5100 as well as the QFX3500 and 3600 and EX4300 switches—to create a single logical switch that can scale to hundreds and thousands of ports, Davidson said.