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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.

VCF requires a Juniper QFX5100 to serve as the spine switch.

It grew out of Virtual Chassis, which debuted in 2008. Virtual Chassis allows up to 10 member switches to be configured into and managed as a single switch, with increased fault tolerance, high-availability and a flatter Layer 2 topology designed to minimize or eliminate the need for Spanning Tree and other protocols.

Says Casemore, "Juniper positions VCF as being for small- to mid-size datacenter environments. This positioning is likely to continue, in my estimation."

Lastly, there's MetaFabric which was introduced in the fall of 2013. MetaFabric combines QFX and EX switches, MX routers, SRX security systems and Contrail SDN controller into an intra- and inter-data center network.

MetaFabric is intended to enable rapid application provisioning within and across multiple data centers using existing Juniper equipment already installed in customer sites and with gear from Juniper partners.

It's also designed to allow customers to pool network resources across data centers, Juniper says, so that these resources are more readily available for applications.

On the SDN front, Juniper also has four or five different SDN controllers: Contrail, OpenContrail, QFabric Director and NorthStar, and OpenDaylight if Juniper chooses to offer a distribution of that. Contrail appears to be the strategic offering for data center switching fabrics, while OpenContrail is Juniper's contribution of it to the open source community.

NorthStar is a traffic optimizer for IP/MPLS WANs designed to automate the creation of traffic-engineering paths across service provider and enterprise networks. QFabric Director programs the QFabric environment, which appears to be heading for obsolescence.

Juniper may also offer a distribution of the OpenDaylight open source SDN controller. Juniper is a Platinum member of the OpenDaylight Project and contributed an OpenContrail plugin to the effort almost a year ago.

The company is not wowed by the OpenDaylight controller's progress to date and has no current plans to offer a Juniper-branded ODL product.

"There's no multivendor network management, no network virtualization," says Ankur Singla, Juniper corporate vice president and general manager for cloud software. "It's not gone where we would like it to be. You can't solve a real customer use case with it."

Singla says multivendor VLAN configuration still needs to develop in the ODL controller.

"Maybe in one year, if it solves a use case, we will offer a commercial distribution," he says. "We'd like to; it would expand our total addressable market."

Singla says Juniper has more than 100 customers for the Contrail controller, including Symantec, Bloomberg, and a Fortune 5 industrial company with three "massive" data centers running Cisco Nexus 9000 switches. Symantec also appears to be a Cisco Application Centric Infrastructure SDN customer.


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