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Juniper unbundles switch hardware, software

Jim Duffy | Dec. 5, 2014
Offers Junos OS on Open Compute Project switch

Vendors that do so may be looking to emulate or shadow the strategy of Cumulus Networks, which is offering a Linux-based network operating system -- IPv4 and IPv6 routing, plus data center and network orchestration hooks -- to run on commodity network hardware. Cumulus says its strategy is complementary to the OCP open source hardware project, but none of Cumulus' currently supported hardware platforms are approved OCP hardware designs.

The one that is -- EdgeCore/Accton's AS5712-54X -- is listed as a future for Cumulus Linux. So current OCP compliance -- in addition to a network operating system, and technical service and support from an established vendor -- appears to be a key differentiator to Juniper's OCX1100 approach.

Cumulus says its hardware compatibility list is comprised of platforms that customers of all scales can acquire, either directly from the manufacturer or through resellers.

"Any platform that meets those goals we'll support," says JR Rivers, CEO and cofounder of Cumulus.

Juniper is working with original device manufacturer Alpha Networks on the OCX1100 hardware design. Alpha's OCP approved designs include a 48-port 10G SFP+ and 6-port 40G QSFP switch, and a 32-port 40G QSFP top-of-rack/aggregation switch.

Juniper says the OCX1100 design has been submitted to the OCP for review and that approval is expected by the time the switch is available for purchase.

Juniper says the OCX1100 runs an optimized version of Junos, based on Linux, and includes features required for deployment in Layer 3 networks. The OCX1100 also includes software interfaces and automation capabilities, such as Python scripting, native Puppet and Chefautomation installation, Junos software development kits, and Open Network Install Environment (ONIE) -- which was submitted to OCP by Cumulus -- to enable loading of third-party network operating systems.

Juniper says the OCX1100 hardware is capable of running any third party software from any vendor -- such as Cumulus Linux, Arista Networks EOS and Cisco NX-OS -- that decides to port their software to this OCP submitted hardware. But Juniper is confident that customers will prefer Junos, which Davidson says has "a 15-year head start" on currently available white box operating systems.

Davidson said Juniper will provide technical service and support for the OCX1100 hardware if it is running an operating system other than Junos, and will "work with customers as needed to troubleshoot any issues they are experiencing."


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