Juniper Takes on SDN and NFV

How will Juniper's Contrail controller address SDN and NFV, how will SDN and NFV change networking jobs, and what's next in the industry?

By Jude Chao | Posted Oct 28, 2013
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Last week, Juniper Networks had its latest earnings call, during which the networking vendor revealed continued growth and focus on software defined networking (SDN) and network virtualization, on which the company is "betting big." I spoke with Juniper SVP and CMO Brad Brooks about Juniper's SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV) strategy, the future of networking jobs, and what's going to be hot in the industry in upcoming months.

How Juniper sees SDN and NFV, and the differences between the two

"We purposely didn't talk about our own strategy around differentiation between SDN and NFV," Brooks told me. The reason for that is simple. From Juniper's perspective, the approach to both involves a single technology: its Contrail SDN controller, in both its proprietary and open source incarnations.

That isn't to say that the use cases for SDN and NFV are the same. Far from it. SDN, Brooks said, enables better, simpler data center management, increased operational efficiency, and improved user application experience. NFV, on the other hand, involves the use of "virtualization concepts and technology to significantly improve provisioning times of services." Currently, tasks like spinning up new firewalls, increasing bandwidth, adding VPN connections, and the like are all "very manual processes," Brooks said. They often require service providers to physically visit customer locations to update or add new equipment. NFV will allow those devices to operate as virtual machines.

NFV means different things to enterprises and to service providers. For enterprises, the technology will enable simpler, more cloud-like data centers. For service providers, on the other hand, NFV will increase their ability to automate and simplify provisioning workflows.

How Contrail fits in

Contrail can meet the needs of both enterprises trying to virtualize data center networks and service providers looking to streamline provisioning of new services, Brooks said, thanks to its scalability, "one of our key points of differentiation."

"We can scale the controller and virtual and physical elements within the controller to thousands and thousands of devices, allowing both service providers and enterprises to use the technology for their data centers," Brooks said. Additionally, it allows for a single approach to the technology and a single, consistent approach to automation.

"This is a big opportunity for us as we go forward in terms of how to operate and manage the network," he said.

Next: What's driving SDN and NFV adoption, how to prepare, how networking jobs will change, and what's ahead in networking

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