Juniper Ramps Up Networking Research

When it comes to moving data around a network, one cannot defy the
laws of physics. Yet there are two sets of physics laws often at play as
data traverses network infrastructure by way of both photons and
electrons. During Juniper Networks’ annual presentation to financial
analysts this week, executives explained how they aim to use the laws of
physics to improve network efficiency.

But it won’t be relying just on particle physics to grow its
business: Executives also revealed how they plan to use new investments
and partnerships to help drive Juniper’s vision of high-speed networking
forward as well.

“Electrons and photons live in different worlds, and the fundamental
laws of physics tell us their capabilities are different,” Juniper
(NASDAQ: JNPR) founder and CTO Pradeep Sindhu said during the analyst
event. “It’s not about Juniper: It’s about what is and what is not

Sindhu explained that unlike electrons, photons don’t interact with
each other, and as a result, photons can pass each other on an optical
fiber without colliding. According to Sindhu, that means that photons
are good for transmitting data over long distances while electrons are
best suited for things like switching and packet forwarding. Moving from
protons to electrons takes a transceiver, and that’s where one of the
sector’s major challenges lies.

“This is one of the biggest problems from keeping industry from going
faster,” Sindhu said. “We need better and cheaper optical transceivers.”

According to Sindhu, the transceiver represents most of the cost of
Optical Transport Network (OTN) switches. The goal for Juniper moving
forward is to use its Junos Space
software platform
to help make the overall management of both the
optical and IP network easier. Sindhu also noted that Juniper is
pushing MPLS as a streamlined approach for handling
traffic in the core network.

Certainly, Juniper’s not alone in working toward a goal of more
effectively converging optical and IP. Rival Alcatel-Lucent is also deeply
invested in the area with its own set of initiatives
, for instance.

At the same time, Juniper is also ramping its efforts to further
networking innovation by way of a pair of new efforts. This week, the
company announced a $50 million venture fund to help develop startups to
build technologies that can build on and enhance Juniper’s Junos
software platform.

Additionally, Sindhu announced the creation of an incubation lab
within Juniper. The general idea behind the lab is to be able to more
quickly bring multiple projects to fruition. The initial goal is to have
five or six project under incubation that have the potential to develop
disruptive technologies that will make a significant impact on
networking, Juniper said.

In addition to help innovation by funding it or creating it in-house,
Juniper is also partnering to help fuel innovation. In particular,
Juniper this week announced that it would be licensing IBM Tivoli’s
Netcool service management software. The Netcool software will be
integrated into the new Junos Space Fault Suite set to debut in the
third quarter of 2010. With the addition, Juniper will be able to
position the Fault Suite as providing a complete fault and network
management solution.

Juniper’s OEMing of IBM’s Netcool marks an expansion of the
relationship between the two vendors. Currently IBM OEMs
Juniper’s networking gear

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news
service of, the
network for technology professionals.

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