Juniper Unveils Converged Supercore Switching Architecture

Juniper is continuing its aggressive strategy push with its upcoming Converged Supercore, a switching architecture designed to help service providers handle the demands of mobile computing and the cloud.

A week after announcing its wide-ranging $100 million QFabric networking initiative, Juniper Networks officials are unveiling a new switching architecture designed to offer faster speeds than current IP switches while driving down costs for service providers.

Juniper officials describe their Converged Supercore, announced March 3 at the company's Analyst Day event, as a complete packet-transfer that combines MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) and integrated optics to enable service providers to scale their networks with fewer components.

Juniper's offering is in response to the skyrocketing numbers of connected mobile devices, the growing adoption of cloud computing and the rise of video applications, all of which are driving up the amount of traffic across the networks. At the same time, this traffic is increasingly unpredictable, which puts pressure on service providers to ensure that their networks are flexible and can rapidly scale to respond to peak demand.

"To avoid breaking the economics of core-network provisioning, service providers must extract every bit of cost out of their networks while improving service delivery and the quality of experience for their customers," Stefan Dyckerhoff, executive vice president and general manager of the Platform Systems Group at Juniper, said in a statement. "Success for service providers hinges on finding a more economical and effective model for building and maintaining their core transport networks, and that's the foundation of our new Converged Supercore architecture and solution set."

The Converged Supercore architecture, which reportedly will enter into beta in August, will include a new switch-the PTX Series Packet Transport Switch-which will enable service providers to collapse network layers, a move that will save 40 to 65 percent in capital costs when compared with traditional architectures, and 35 percent when compared with IP routing offerings, the company said.

The architecture also will offer four times the speed and five times the packet processing of current IP switches, Juniper officials told Mike Marcellin, vice president of product marketing and strategy at Juniper, told Forbes that the Converged Supercore will be able to move 3,800 terabits a second over the network, "10 times faster than Cisco's" high-end product.

Through its 3-year-old "Project Stratus"-now called QFabric-Juniper has pushed to collapse the data center's traditional three-tier networking architecture into one, which officials said will give enterprises and midsize businesses the scalability, flexibility and performance to handle the growth of cloud computing and the onslaught of traffic generated by mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones. Juniper rolled out QFabric Feb. 23.

At the Mobile World Congress 2011 earlier in February, Juniper introduced its MobileNext platform-formerly called "Project Falcon"-that brings together IP and mobile technologies into a single group of offerings. MobileNext also will enable mobile operators to support legacy technologies while migrating to new ones, such as LTE (Long-Term Evolution) 4G.

The recent moves have impressed Brian White, an analyst at Ticonderoga Securities.

"Given these new solutions, Juniper's addressable market opportunity continues to expand, and we believe the company is well-positioned to capitalize on secular trends that include rapid IP traffic growth, the build-out of the mobile Internet, the shift to all IP networks with 4G LTE and the trend toward cloud computing," White said in a research note March 2, previewing the company's Analyst Day. "Over the past couple of the years, Juniper discussed its future mobile Internet and data center/cloud computing initiatives in very general terms as the solutions had not yet been unveiled. However, this has changed as Juniper recently unveiled MobileNext (previously code-named Project Falcon) and QFabric (previously code-named the Stratus Project) over the past few weeks."

Juniper's Converged Supercore will add to that lineup of new and upcoming offerings.

The moves come as rivals in the networking space look to address the issues raised by mobile computing and the cloud. For example, Cisco Systems, also at Mobile World Congress, unveiled MOVE ((Monetization, Optimization, Videoscape Experience), a collection of solutions designed to let service providers better manage the rapidly growing amount of mobile traffic on their networks and to do a better job making money from it.

During this week's Enteprise Connect 2011 show, Extreme Networks President and CEO Oscar Rodriguez spoke about his company's strategy around mobile computing and the network's role in enhancing the user experience. It's a move Yankee Group analyst Zeus Kerravala said is a good one.

"Over the years, Extreme has been first to market with many network features, but my primary criticism of the company has been their inability to create a vision for which these features were relevant," Kerravala wrote in a March 2 blog post. "However, I'm impressed with their new commitment to mobility and their positioning around the network's ability to directly affect user experience. The network is in a position to have a significant impact on how rapidly this new world of mobility comes to us. It's a bold bet for Extreme, but ... I believe it's the right bet."