Juniper Product Blitz Pushes Network Performance to Challenge Cisco

Juniper Networks introduced enhanced switches and routers along with new software-defined networking capabilities to boost throughput and improve system scalability.

Juniper Products 2

SUNNYVALE, Calif. —Juniper Networks introduced several new networking products during a March 11 “Innovation Showcase” at company headquarters, where Juniper executives were joined on stage by Internet carriers and other key customers.

Juniper detailed advances in switches and updates to its PTX Series routers and software-defined network (SDN) capabilities that it says will dramatically boost throughput, reduce latency and improve session scalability.

All of the new products are in various stages of rollout and customer testing. They were developed with an eye toward helping companies keep pace with the massive growth in network data traffic, driven in large part by cloud services and mobile devices.

Juniper Networks CEO Rami Rahim said improvements to the company’s routers are designed to address new demands on the network. “Customers are trying to deal with an onslaught of traffic in mobile and video,” he said. “We are now years ahead of our competition.”

New cards for PTX Series core routers are designed to bring new levels of scale as well as cost control to the network, Juniper said. Using the company’s new ExpressPlus silicon, routers combine full IP and MPLS functionality, transport integration, and SDN programmability, which Juniper said significantly ups the performance bar and are easier to deploy.

Specifically, Juniper says the PTX5000 routers can deliver 3 Tbps per slot (30x100GE interfaces) for a total capacity of 24 Tbps (48 Tbps half-duplex). This throughput is as much as three times greater than what competitors offer. It also offers high energy efficiency at 1/2 watt per gigabit, Juniper said.

Another new router, the PTX3000, is specifically designed for space-constrained environments and can scale up to 8 Tbps or (16 Tbps half-duplex) in a form factor that Juniper said is 91 percent smaller than its nearest competitor.

To illustrate what the extra performance means in real life situations, Juniper said the PTX5000 could simultaneously stream HD video to every single person in Rio de Janeiro using the same amount of power it takes to drive an electric vehicle 35 miles.

“This is just the beginning,” said Jonathan Davidson, executive vice president and general manager of Juniper’s innovation organization. “The second wave is the software defined network. With enhancements to our Northstar controller, we’re enabling the first SDN controller to automate control of multiple network layers, making it open to multiple network providers.”

The advantage for service providers is the flexibility to increase their utilization by dynamically adjusting to changing network conditions in real-time at the touch of a button. Davidson jokingly compared this capability to pushing the “That was easy” button used in commercials by retailer Staples.

Sterling Perrin, a senior analyst with Heavy Reading, told eWEEK that Juniper appears to be moving faster to adopt open source than competitor Cisco Systems. “Cisco has talked about it, and may do it, but right now Juniper is moving more aggressively to open source,” he said.

As for performance, Perrin said it typically takes several years for network companies to bring out new designs and Cisco’s last major move was in 2013. “Juniper says it’s now ahead by at least two years, but it’s probably closer to a year,” Perrin said.

Keeping the Network Monster at Bay.

Juniper customer Torryon Coleman, a senior director at Cox Communications, said he’s happy with the direction the company is taking, particularly as network traffic at the cable giant continues to rise.

“We’ve witnessed 50-60 percent growth on the network over the past five years, but Juniper’s been there when we’ve needed a bigger box to get the network monster off our back.”

He also is impressed that Juniper is taking steps to automate maintenance. “Some routers have 5,000 lines of code in the maintenance window,” he said, noting that a mistake can be costly. He hopes SDN and other advances will automate what are now manual fixes to the network.

“In the data center you want seamless delivery of data services and to get away from manual touches to this box and that box to get services,” he said. “On the network core side, you want to get to the idea of self-healing networks where the network knows where the fault is, sees some packet loss, and works around it so we don’t get a [trouble] ticket. SDN helps with that.”

Juniper’s Davidson nodded in agreement and said that’s exactly the direction the company is headed with SDN.

Other significant announcements include the QFX10000, a new line of spine switches that Juniper said offers dramatically levels of scale, automation and performance to all types of data center and cloud deployments.

Juniper also announced Junos Fusion for data centers, which is designed to let customers manage their entire data center as a single network. The aim is to ensure simpler network designs and long-term investment protection.

Editor's Note: This story was updated to correct the name of Juniper Network's QFX10000 line of spine switches.

David Needle

David Needle

Based in Silicon Valley, veteran technology reporter David Needle covers mobile, bi g data, and social media among other topics. He was formerly News Editor at Infoworld, Editor of Computer Currents...