Juniper Looks to Flatten Data Center Networks

Juniper Networks is rolling out hardware, software and services as part of its push to simplify the data center network. The announcements are part of Juniper's Project Stratus strategy of collapsing the network infrastructure from three to two layers, then from two to one in the next year. The effort relies heavily on automation and virtualization capabilities.

Juniper Networks officials plan to continue flattening the data center networking infrastructure as they move toward a single-tiered offering starting sometime in 2011.

During a news conference and Webcast May 17, Juniper executives outlined the company's 3-2-1 strategy, saying they are anticipating the collapse of the networking infrastructure to a single layer in 2011 through the company's Project Stratus effort, introducing such features as greater automation and virtualization capabilities.

However, for now, Juniper is unveiling a host of new products and services designed to help businesses reduce the number of networking layers in their data centers from three to two.

"We're at an inflection point, the transformation of what we call the virtual data center," Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson said during the press conference.

Juniper's announcements come as network vendors, including Cisco Systems, Brocade Communications Systems and Extreme Networks, look to play a larger role in the evolution of the data center.

For example, Cisco already is extending its reach through its new server business and partnerships with storage giant EMC and virtualization technology maker VMware. Extreme is building out its strategy for helping enterprises migrate from traditional physical data center infrastructures to virtualized ones.

Right now, Johnson said, networking infrastructures are too complex, slow, costly and inefficient. As businesses look to increase the performance of their data centers while driving down the costs, companies like Juniper and its competitors will have to help meet that demand, Johnson and other executives said.

Cutting out entire layers in the network can lead to reductions in latency of up to 85 percent and TCO of almost 40 percent, according to Juniper.

"The old network needs to change," Mike Banic, vice president of enterprise marketing, said during the event.

Juniper is rolling out the EX 4500, a 48-port 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch that, being CEE (Converged Enhanced Ethernet)-capable, pushes forward the idea of a converged networking layer. It's also Data Center Bridging-capable. With both abilities, the switch can support multiple traffic sources-such as storage on Fibre Channel-and can be used for both servers and storage.

The EX 8200 40-port 10G Ethernet core switch also offers CEE capabilities, while the MX 80 3D Ethernet edge services router offers greater virtual machine mobility between data centers that are connected by Ethernet VPLS (Virtual Private LAN Services), Banic said.

Juniper also is unveiling four new applications based on Junos Space, a development and deployment platform the company first rolled out in October. Included is Virtual Control, which is designed to enable administrators to manage physical and virtual networks from a common interface. Juniper is working with VMware to make use of that company's APIs with Virtual Control.

The Ethernet Design management software lets businesses power up or down the network as needed depending on demand from users and applications. Through the automated capabilities in the software, network administrators can manage thousands of network devices as easily as one, the company said.

Security Design is designed to enable simpler management of security devices and services, while Service Insight aims to give administrators greater insight into what's happening in their networks.

In the security arena, Juniper introduced its AppTrack software, which gives IT administrators greater visibility into their SRX Series services gateways, and AppSecure, which protects the network against DDoS (distributed-denial-of-service) attacks.

Juniper is partnering with FireEye for greater malware protection. Juniper officials also announced partnerships with IBM, which is now selling OEM versions of the SRX Series, and Dell, which will sell the SRX Series and EX switches as an OEM in the summer of 2010.

In addition, Johnson unveiled Juniper Care Plus, a services offering that provides a greater level of support, plus automation tools, consulting and account management features.