Juniper Expands OpenLab Efforts to Educate on SDN

Juniper network is expanding its OpenLab effort, going from a single location in New Jersey to seven worldwide, including one in Sunnyvale, Calif.; Bridgewater, N.J.; Amsterdam; London; Tokyo; Singapore; and Sydney, Australia.

“Juniper Networks OpenLab centers are local hubs that empower industry leaders, both existing and emerging, with the training and hands-on experiences necessary to keep pace with networking evolution,” Jerry Passione, general manager of OpenLab at Juniper Networks, told Enterprise Networking Planet. “OpenLab is expanding from New Jersey to offer hands-on training, workshops and network technology competitions worldwide.”

The OpenLab effort first got underway in 2012 and has been evolving ever since. Back in 2013, Juniper enhanced its OpenLab program with the $60 million acquisition of privately held WANDL.

“Since opening in 2012, OpenLab has hosted an array of engagements for customers, partners, academia, and others, including more than 150 technology and programmability training sessions for thousands of attendees,” Passione said in an email interview. “Juniper has hosted SDN competitions with 17 universities from around the globe and provisioned more than 500 platform sandboxes for hands-on learning by customers, partners and academic institutions worldwide.”

In addition to the OpenLab expansion, Juniper sponsored a new study with Wakefield Research looking at network disruption.

“The most surprising finding in Juniper Networks’s recent survey was the nearly universal lack of trust – from both IT and business decision makers – that the C-Suite was aware of or prepared for this inevitable disruption,” Mike Marcellin, chief marketing officer at Juniper Networks, told Enterprise Networking Planet.

Marcellin added that an overwhelming amount of respondents, nearly nine in ten, think that their senior leaders are unequipped with the technology know-how to move their businesses forward. He commented that from Juniper’s perspective, it was surprising that the obstacle today isn’t technology itself, but rather an awareness issue about the value that IT can provide.

“The disconnect between IT and the C-Suite, whether it be from a lack of interest, lack of investment, or just lack of information, is having a huge impact on what companies can do to address change,” Marcellin said. “About half of the respondents expect it would take one or more years for their company to develop and support an improved product or service if challenged by a competitor.”

Additionally, respondents overwhelmingly agreed that they believe automation (in the form of SDN and NFV) holds the key to staying out in front of disruption, at least from a technology perspective.

Marcellin noted that overall, both business and IT decision makers are on the same page when it comes to the value of network automation. 70 percent of IT decision makers and 72 percent of business decision makers are excited by the opportunities it creates. But Juniper’s research identified several obstacles holding companies back. For example, there’s a skills gap that’s causing IT to fall behind. Almost half (45 percent) of IT decision makers surveyed believe a quarter or more of their IT workforce will not have the skills they need to succeed five years from now.

“Without a well-equipped workforce that understands the value of these technologies and how best to communicate that value to leadership, network automation is bound to fall to the wayside,” Marcellin said.

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

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