Juniper Networks Aims for Digital Cohesion

At Juniper Networks’ NXTWORK 2016 event on October 4, CEO Rami Rahim outlined the company’s vision dubbed “Digital Cohesion.”

“Digital cohesion is an era in which applications connect and self-assemble to deliver compelling mega-services that enhance our lives,” Rahim said during his keynote. “Such services represent a move from point-in-time static service approaches that are user-initiated to new predictive, autonomous and adaptive services.”

In Rahim’s view, there are a number of real barriers in the way of Digital Cohesion becoming the norm today. Among those challenges is performance, especially since Moore’s Law is coming to the end of its run. Rather than the compute capacity continuing to double every year, it’s now taking much longer. Rahim added that while compute capacity is getting smaller, it’s not necessary getting faster or cheaper like it once was.

“If you don’t have performance, you don’t have anything,” Rahim said.

The answer to the performance issue is scale out. As such, what has happened with compute capacity is instead of single servers, organizations make use of clusters, and instead of just data centers, we know have the cloud.

According to Rahim, Moore’s Law impacts networking as much as it does compute, and the same motion toward scale-out architecture is now occurring. The scale-out model for networking is where Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) fit in.

Another core element that is required for Digital Cohesion is the capacity for innovation.

“Innovation requires resources, and networking is an industry where 90 percent of resources are stuck keeping the lights on and maintain legacy,” Rahim said. “We need automation. Automation is not about replacing jobs, it’s about freeing up capacity to innovate.”

Rahim noted that it is his belief that the networking industry has taken a timid view of automation. Juniper now wants to enable a much bolder vision that is being branded as “self-driving networking.” The self-driving network starts with gathering massive amounts of data and information from the network. The data collection is not done using old school polling techniques, but rather by way of high-performance techniques for data ingest. All the ingested data can be analyzed by machine learning and Big Data analytics techniques that can help to enable predictive and adaptive networks.

The promise of the self-driving Digital Cohesion-era network is a network that understands where potential issues are before they actually happen and can then take corrective actions.

Interoperability also needs to improve to enable the Digital Cohesion era. Currently, many network operators need to maintain both optical and packet-based networks, which can lead to lost efficiency. Rahim’s vision is to collapse optical and packet networking to unlock the potential that is trapped in the multiple layers of current networking approaches.

Finally, security needs to be further improved for Digital Cohesion to actually be successful. Rahim said that a new way of thinking about security from an architectural standpoint needs to occur.

“We can’t rely on where firewalls are on the network to detect where issues exist or enforce policy that stops the bad guys,” Rahim said. “Trust is solved when every element of the network participates in the overall security posture of that network.”

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

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