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Does Juniper have too many SDNs?

Jim Duffy | March 19, 2015
Last week's product launch extends range of controllers and data center fabrics.

After last week's Innovation Day announcements, Juniper Networks has a range of SDN, data center fabric and data center switching products to choose from.

Does it have too many? The addition of the new QFX10000 spine switch and Junos Fusion fabric may mean some product rationalization is in the works.

"There is some level of complexity in product positioning," acknowledges Juniper CEO Rami Rahim. "But if customers decide to move from one fabric or SDN to another we provide the flexibility to move with investment protection. Customers care about the attributes of the product itself. That drives their decisions more than anything else."

With the introduction of the Junos Fusion data center fabric -- not to be confused with the Junos Fusion announced a year ago for service provider routers -- Juniper now has four or five different switching and/or data center fabrics: Virtual Chassis, Virtual Chassis Fabric, QFabric and MetaFabric -- if that can be considered one -- being the others.

Some of these overlap to some extent, some are "open," some proprietary. Junos Fusion, which includes some properties from QFabric Director, uses a standard tagging scheme based on IEEE 802.1BR, whereas QFabric's is proprietary.

The proprietary characteristics of QFabric helped cool the market reception for the product.

Junos Fusion will make its way onto other Juniper platforms as well, including the EX9200 programmable core switch for enterprise campuses and data centers, says Jonathan Davidson, executive vice president and general manager of Juniper Development and Innovation.

"It's a key component in the data center as well as in the enterprise," Davidson says of Junos Fusion.

Analysts predict that Junos Fusion may eventually replace the three-and-a-half year old QFabric.

"Juniper initially positioned QFabric as a foundation for cloud-ready, virtualized datacenters, but it seems SDN and network virtualization, which are even better suited for cloud-ready and virtualized datacenters, have put QFabric's future prospects in doubt," says IDC's Brad Casemore. "Juniper also says that Junos Fusion shares common switching building blocks with QFabric System, and that it 'enables coherency through automation and manages the entire data center as a single network rather than individual network elements.' Again, it makes one wonder where QFabric will be positioned going forward."

Juniper says QFabric is still being offered for a particular customer segment and that a development roadmap remains intact for the product line.

Virtual Chassis and Virtual Chassis Fabric are complementary in that one evolved from the other. Virtual Chassis Fabric, for leaf-and-spine designs, is a 1G/10G/40G fabric optimized to support small and medium-sized data centers that scale to 768 10G ports by combining up to 32 Juniper QFX and EX top-of-rack switches into a single-tier, single logical switch.


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