Juniper Switch Combines Open Design, Junos Network OS

Company officials say Juniper's OCX1100 switch supports the OCP's efforts, but also gives customers a carrier-grade networking operating system.

Juniper switch

Juniper Networks is unveiling a new switch that offers an open design and the vendor's networking operating system that is aimed at large cloud environments where organizations want to move away from complex hardware and more easily embrace such trends as software-defined networking.

Juniper built the cloud-optimized OCX1100 switch in line with designs from the Open Compute Project (OCP), the 3-year-old Facebook-led effort to develop open standards for highly efficient data centers and IT hardware. Company officials said the switch will help organizations that don't have the resources or expertise to design their own networking gear or to use hardware from white-box makers, but that also don't want to continue dealing with the high costs and lack of flexibility that come with traditional architectures from the likes of Cisco Systems, Extreme Networks and Juniper.

By combining an open-source hardware design with its own Junos OS operating system, Juniper is offering customers greater innovation and agility with the backing of an established vendor that comes with a solid software platform and support services, according to company officials.

"Our customers have told us that they no longer want to be locked into platforms or architectures for another 20+ years," Jonathan Davidson, senior vice president and general manager of Juniper's Security, Switching and Solutions Business Unit, said in an email to eWEEK. "They want and need openness and innovation. By leveraging OCP submitted hardware, we saw an opportunity to provide large cloud builders with a new approach to networking, one that fills a functional gap between white box and traditional switching."

The OCP had initially targeted servers and storage devices for its work, but last year began looking at networking hardware to develop a vendor-agnostic switch. Juniper officials said the company is the first to offer an open switch based on OCP designs that also runs a carrier-class networking OS.

The networking space is undergoing rapid and fundamental change, due in large part to the movement toward software-defined networking (SDN) and network-functions virtualization (NFV). Organizations are looking for more agile, automated and cost-effective networks that can be quickly programmed to meet the changing needs brought on by such trends as big data, mobile computing and the cloud.

SDN and NFV offer the promise of more flexible and programmable networks by taking networking intelligence out of the underlying hardware and putting it into software, where it can be run on less expensive commodity servers and switches. Top networking vendors like Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and Juniper are rapidly expanding their network virtualization capabilities, while a broad array of smaller companies are rolling out SDN and NFV products in hopes of gaining a foothold in the market.