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Juniper uncorks its core SDN switch earlier than expected

Jim Duffy | April 1, 2013
Earlier than expected, Juniper this week unveiled the EX9200 programmable core switch for 10G, 40G and 100Gbps software-defined networks.

Earlier than expected, Juniper this week unveiled the EX9200 programmable core switch for 10G, 40G and 100Gbps software-defined networks.

The EX9200 is a complete core replacement for current generation EX8200 customers looking for 40/100G Ethernet and/or SDN programmability. None of the EX8200 line cards are forward compatible with the EX9200, Juniper says.

"(The upgrade) sounds drastic, but the EX8200 is successful in lower density markets," says Dhritiman Dasgupta, Juniper senior director or product marketing and strategy. "We did not have a solution for very high speed densities."

Juniper does not yet have an EX8200-to-EX9200 migration or trade-in program in place for customers but is working on one, Dasgupta says.

The EX9200 is based on Juniper's MX edge router rather than the EX switch. It runs that same 3+-year-old One/Trio ASIC as the MX and form factors are identical, but chassis, line cards, switch fabric, routing engines and software are not, Dasgupta says.

Only power supplies, fan trays, air filters and power cables are interchangeable components between the EX9200 and MX router, he says. New guts were necessary to bring the MX-based EX9200 down to a switch price point, he says - functionally-enriched routers cost much more than switches.

Juniper went with the MX technology instead of the EX switch platform for the EX9200 due to the programmability of the Trio ASIC, Dasgupta says.

"We would not have been able to deliver that" with the EX platform, he says.

He also claims that the EX8200 was never designed for 40/100G Ethernet despite the multi-terabit switch capacity numbers Juniper touted for the box. Nonetheless, customers may have been sold on the EX8200 with the understanding it was "100G Ready" -- Juniper resellers and channel partners are being advised to reassure those customers that Juniper will continue to invest in and support the EX8200, and aid in the migration to the EX9200, sources familiar with the program have said.

Dasgupta says the EX8200 will receive mostly software enhancements from here on in.

The EX9200 has also cast future development of the QFabric Interconnect, the core of Juniper's QFabric single-tier data center fabric switching system, into question. Sources say QFabric will remain Juniper's lead platform for single-tier fabrics but for "10G-only" implementations, despite the platform's support for currently shipping 40G interfaces.

The majority of QFabric top-of-rack switches - called "nodes" in the QFabric architecture - already have 40G uplinks, Dasgupta says.

QFabric will be positioned as the alternative to Cisco's Nexus 7000 with "F" series cards, which are optimized for high-density, low-power, shallow buffers and limited features, sources say. EX9200 will be positioned against the Nexus 7000 "M" series in the data center, and against Cisco's Catalyst 6500E and HP's 7500/10500/12500 switches in the campus core with large physical or logical scale, and/or 40/100G requirements, they say.


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