Inside Juniper's Integrated Operating Plan to Drive Growth

Juniper is in the process of re-focusing on a number of key areas, including SDN.

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted Jul 28, 2014
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Juniper Networks has been in a process of corporate transformation for much of 2014. The company started the year off with a new CEO and has been executing on a new Integrated Operating Plan since as early as April.

Helping to lead Juniper's transformation efforts is Rami Rahim, who currently serves as the EVP and GM for Development and Innovation. Rahim is no stranger to Juniper and its technology. Rahim started working at Juniper in 1997 as an ASIC design and verification engineer.

Rahim explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that as part of Juniper's transformation, multiple research and development groups within the company have been merged into a single organization.

"[Juniper CEO] Shaygan Kheradpir tapped me to run that organization and I feel very pleased and honored to do so," Rahim said.

As part of its overall plan, Juniper is now focusing on technologies for market segments it refers to as High-IQ networking and cloud builders. Rahim noted that Juniper has always worked to provide high-performance networking gear but increasingly has come to realize that there is also a need for software-driven intelligence in the network.

The High-IQ networking segment is where Juniper plans on enabling organizations with higher degrees of network automation to extract information from the network for better optimization.

When it comes to the cloud builders segment, Rahim sees three categories. There are do-it-yourself service providers that have their own ability to develop much of the automation software that sits on top of networking infrastructure. For those users, Rahim said they are looking for scale, performance and reliability as well as programmatic interfaces from Juniper.

Organizations that want more turnkey operations form the second cloud builder segment. Those types of organizations typically run VMware and are now looking at automating their networks. Rahim said that those types of customers would likely choose VMware's NSX network virtualization solution. Juniper then needs to provide the right types of protocol hooks into VMware's orchestration layers.

The other category of cloud builders that Rahim sees are organizations looking at using the open-source OpenStack cloud platform. Juniper's strategy there is to leverage its Contrail Software Defined Networking (SDN) controller.

"We have built and open sourced Contrail to truly appeal to the type of cloud builder that values open source as a means of rapid innovation," Rahim said.

Juniper acquired Contrail for $176 million in December of 2012 and made the technology open source in September of 2012.

Rahim explained that more often than not, cloud customers already have multiple forms of SDN architectures for automation within their own data centers. For that reason, many organizations are looking for tools that can federate data centers that might be using different SDN technologies.

"We have enabled that with products like the MX router, which sits at the edge of the data center and acts as a universal SDN gateway that can translate different tunneling and control plane protocols," Rahim said. "Contrail is also becoming a hypervisor-agnostic SDN controller system that can federate clouds."

In the modern networking world, both physical and virtual technologies are required, something that Juniper understands well.

"Everyone has some combination of physical and virtual workloads and there is a need to bridge between the two," Rahim said.

Moving forward, Juniper faces a number of challenges, including competitive threats. Overall, however, Rahim said that he has confidence in Juniper's technology and people across switching, routing and security.

"The industry is going through some large transitions," Rahim said. "The best approach that has worked for us is to engage with our customers, roll up our sleeves and have a DevOps-style approach, where we're tackling problems as they appear."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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