Juniper Virtualizes MX Routing Platform with vMX

Juniper Networks took a big step forward today with the announcement of the vMX virtual routing platform. The vMX is a virtual routing platform based on Juniper’s high-end MX routing platform

Stephen Liu, senior director, Service Provider Marketing at Juniper, explained to Enterprise Networking Planet that the vMX can run in the most popular hypervisors, including: KVM, VMware, and Xen. The vMX can even run in Docker containers and on bare metal.

“The hardware can be generic x86, although performance will vary depending on server speed, number of cores, memory, etc,” Liu said.

With the vMX, Juniper isn’t looking to cannibalize its existing hardware business, either. Instead, the plan is to offer different products for different use cases. Liu noted that the vMX can elastically scale out virtually.

“The value that vMX brings is agility to start small, grow fast and stay profitable,” Liu said. “Once larger scales are needed, the service provider can migrate to physical MX platforms as required.”

While the vMX runs on x86, Juniper isn’t relying only on the x86 silicon instruction set to fully optimize network features. Liu commented that Juniper has also virtualized the Trio custom silicon features, which power the physical MX, and optimized all of the Trio’s data plane forwarding features to work on x86.

“From an operations perspective, physical and virtual look exactly the same,” Liu said

Liu added that functions and operations are all the same, which should mean that there is no need for technical hesitation in deciding to add virtualization. The decision to go virtual or physical then becomes about performance.

“The vMX provides industry-leading performance at 160G of throughput, giving customers the ability to scale up services virtually,” Liu said. “By contrast, the MX2020, our flagship router, provides 80 TB of capacity.”

From a licensing perspective, the vMX is set to be available in several flavors. Liu explained that for CapEx-minded buyers, a perpetual license (no expiration, one-time cost) can be done. For OpEx-minded buyers, a subscription license is available. Buyers will be able to buy either license in increments based on capacity, for example in 100M, 1G, or 10G sizes, or any combination thereof.

From a competitive perspective, the idea of having a virtual router is not a new one. Both Cisco and Brocade have had offerings in the market for several years. In Liu’s view, Juniper’s vMX differentiates itself against other solutions in terms of both performance and agility.

“With vMX, service provider customers get 15 years of Juniper carrier-grade pedigree on day one, on a platform which integrates easily into their network operations that already consist of MX platforms that they know and love,” Liu said.

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

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