Juniper is expanding its role in software-defined networking (SDN) with new products that expand its control and management into the optical layer and, separately, the company’s first server platform.
It’s all been announced Sunday morning in California — which, in Barcelona, is the eve of Mobile World Congress (MWC), where Juniper will be showing off its new toys.
Getting Optical Involved in SDN
The new NorthStar Controller is being described by Juniper as a partner to the Contrail SDN controller, like the halves of a brain.
Contrail can be used to steer flows to the desired points in the network (service chaining being a key use case) at Layer 3. NorthStar, on the other hand, looks across multiple layers — optical transport, especially — to find optimal paths for traffic.
Criteria for “optimal” can include cost, which means NorthStar can be used to keep traffic at the optical layer, where switching is cheapest, as often as possible and avoid expensive routing wherever possible. Cyan pitches a similar message with Blue Planet, its multilayer, multivendor orchestration software.
Some of the technology for NorthStar came from the $60 million acquisition of Wandl in December.
NorthStar is due to be available in the second half of the year.
Another new product is Junos Fusion, management software that controls “thousands” of endpoints, as Juniper claims, with a single management plane on an MX router or PTX packet-optical router. The endpoints don’t have to be Juniper equipment, and they span a lot of possibilities, including core and edge routers, microwave backhaul points, and optical-transport equipment.
Again, part of the message here is that Juniper is unifying network layers and sectors under SDN. It all seems to be in the spirit of the One-Juniper plan that new CEO Shaygan Kheradpir articulated last week, in which the walls between product areas are being broken down.
Junos Fusion is due to be available in the second quarter.
The Server Side
A more radical move, and one that didn’t get articulated much in Sunday’s announcement, is Juniper’s first go at offering a server.
The CSE2000 Carrier Services Engine (pictured above) is an x86-based system for housing services. It’s NEBS-compliant, meaning it’s suitable for carrier networks, although Juniper is also pitching it for the data center.
Cisco caused an uproar when it offered its own servers as a component of the Unified Computing System (UCS). Juniper’s move doesn’t have the same implications, but it does add to the number of vendors offering the compute and networking angles of SDN, including Cisco, Dell, and HP.
The CSE2000, available now, is a two-slot box with available Intel Xeon-based blades that support two 10-Gb/s Ethernet ports (a four-port blade is listed on the data sheet as an option). Alternatively, the box can accommodate a Broadcom-based switch blade that supports up to 62 ports running 1 Gb/s or 10 Gb/s each — but you’re not supposed to run them all full-throttle; Juniper is talking about the CSE2000 running services at only up to 40 Gb/s.