Juniper Enterprise Ethernet Switch Buyer’s Guide

The enterprise switch market just had a bumper year according to Dell’Oro Group, growing 30 percent to nearly $20 billion in Level 2 and Level 3 switching category compared to 2009.

“The Ethernet switch market surged in 2010 as enterprise and small businesses rebounded from economic weakness in 2009, and the data center continued to expand rapidly,” said Alan Weckel, an analyst at Dell’Oro Group. “Given the strength and record levels achieved in 2010, we believe that the overall Ethernet switch market will remain flat in 2011, as growth in the data center will be offset by price erosion and increased competition for enterprise and small business spending,”

While 1 Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet both grew in 2010, Weckel said that most of the future market growth will come in the 10 Gigabit Ethernet space. The top six vendors in 10 Gigabit Ethernet in 2010 include Brocade, Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM and Juniper Networks.

Overall, however, Juniper had the strongest year-over-year growth, followed by Dell, Cisco, then HP. Dell’Oro also places Juniper as the overall number three provider of enterprise switches behind Cisco and HP, narrowly beating out Brocade and Dell for the third spot.

So where does Juniper think the market is heading? Andy Ingram, Vice President of Product Marketing, Fabric and Switching Group at Juniper Networks, believes that the most prevalent trend in the enterprise switch market is to improve the modern data center by moving to a “flat” data center fabric. This trend is a response to the issues associated with legacy networks, such as the tendency to deploy more boxes to increase bandwidth–an approach that adds cost and complexity in addition to bandwidth, said Ingram.

In consequence, Juniper developed the “3-2-1” data center network architecture to flatten and simplify legacy data center networks.

“By following the Juniper 3-2-1 roadmap, customers can eliminate an entire layer of switching from their networks today, delivering lower latency, greater performance, a smaller footprint, lower power consumption, simplified management and a lower total cost of ownership,” said Ingram.

Juniper Switches

Juniper offers a range of products, laid out in three categories:

EX Series switches

EX Series Ethernet switches are aimed at user networks and data centers. Their Virtual Chassis is the “2” in Juniper’s 3-2-1 architecture. This series is also the cornerstone of Juniper’s campus solution.

Ingram said features include carrier-class reliability, Juniper’s Unified Access Control (UAC), and application control (eight QoS queues per port, ensuring proper prioritization of control plane, voice, video, and multiple levels of data traffic).

The EX Series consists of:

The EX8200 modular Ethernet switches deliver up to 128 wire-speed 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports per chassis with nearly 2 billion packets per second throughput — the ideal platform for next-generation data centers. It includes Virtual Chassis technology (also available with the EX4200 and EX4500), which allows up to 10 individual switches to be interconnected and managed as a single, logical device. EX Series Ethernet switches start at $4,000.

“The EX4200 with Virtual Chassis technology is good for 1 GbE data center access layer deployments,” said Ingram. “It can also be used at the access layer of the campus, as the primary aggregation switch with the EX4500 or EX8200 at the core.”  

QFX Series switches

The recently announced QFX Series includes the QFX3500 top-of-rack (ToR) switch, which, combined with an EX8200 at the core, is designed to service enterprise and service provider data center environments. The QFX3500 also provides high speed and low latency. QFabric delivers scalability and agility necessary for large cloud computing and SaaS environments. QFabric supports thousands of ports within a single-tier data center or cloud network. It can operate as a stand-alone 48-port 10Gigabit Ethernet switch with FCoE and Fiber Channel gateway functionality.

“The QFX3500 offers the fastest unicast and multicast performance for switches greater than 24 ports in the industry, and also provides a stepping stone to the QFabric architecture,” said Ingram. “The QFX3500 is ideal for 10GbE data center access deployments with the EX8200 at the core.”

It delivers 1.28 Tbps of throughput and 960 Mpps of switching capacity with low latency and jitter. All ports can run in both L2 and L3 mode, with the option to operate in either cut-through or store-and-forward mode as well. The QFX3500 switch’s MAC address table enables large-scale server virtualization deployment. It consumes less than 5 watts per 10GbE port and includes variable-speed fans that adjust operation based on ambient temperature. Pricing starts at $34,000

WLAN products

Juniper also offers wireless solutions, including

“The switches that customers choose to deploy and implement ultimately depends on what problem they are trying to solve: greenfield, mixed, or an existing environment,” said Ingram.

Drew Robb
Drew Robb
Drew Robb has been a full-time professional writer and editor for more than twenty years. He currently works freelance for a number of IT publications, including eSecurity Planet and CIO Insight. He is also the editor-in-chief of an international engineering magazine.
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