JUNOS: Open, But Not Open Source

At the heart of every networking device is an operating system that enables traffic
flow. In the case of networking vendor Juniper, that operating system for the past ten
years has been JUNOS, a network operating system with its roots in the open source

FreeBSD operating system

Juniper has updated JUNOS every 90 days since 1998. For Juniper, the corporate
strategy is to offer a single OS across its routing and switching equipment. The single
OS strategy is intended to help make it easier both for Juniper and for users. It also
helps to differentiate Juniper against its competitors in the networking space that often
have multiple network operating systems.

“For our high-performance business customers, the network is critical to their
success,” Michael Bushong, Senior Product Manager, JUNOS Software, Juniper Networks told
InternetNews.com. “Specifically, the performance and functionality of the
operating system underlying the network is essential to delivering against their business

The first version of JUNOS was available on July 7, 1998 and since then Juniper has
been updating it with new features every quarter. The release of JUNOS 9.1 in May of this
year marked the 38th consecutive release of the operating system.

JUNOS itself is not an entirely new construct, but rather benefits greatly from open

“JUNOS software is, indeed, based on FreeBSD,” Bushong said. “Probably the most
obvious benefit of using FreeBSD in our software is the Unix-like environment that comes
with it. Customers can access a Unix shell and perform normal Unix commands that can be
quite helpful with the regular upkeep of our routing platforms.”

FreeBSD is one of the oldest open source operating systems still in existence and is a
direct descendant of the original open source BSD work performed at the University of
California at Berkeley. Though Juniper has benefited from an open source operating
system, JUNOS itself is not open source though Bushong was quick to note that Juniper has
opened it up in a sense.

“Juniper created the Open IP Solution Development Program (OSDP) to allow customers
and partners access to the Partner Solution Development Platform (PSDP), which includes a
Software Development Kit (SDK) with intelligent and secure interfaces to JUNOS,” Bushong
explained. “As we continue to evaluate the needs of our customers in an evolving
marketplace, we are satisfied that the current PSDP model of open, not open source, will
continue to accelerate industry innovation, while maintaining the protections and
safeguards so critical to our customers.”

One of the key things that JUNOS has delivered to Juniper customers is a degree of
predictability. Every 90 days there is a new release providing fixes and improving
functionality. It’s a relentless development cycle that is critical to Juniper’s

“It’s funny. Almost everyone I talk to wants to know how we can continue to ship
feature-rich releases every 90 days,” Bushong said. “Really, the biggest enabler is the
fact that we focus our resources on a single operating system for our routing and
switching platforms. We made a decision on day one that we wanted to develop and maintain
a single operating system. By focusing on that one OS, we gain efficiency on both the
development and the test sides of our R&D efforts, allowing us to implement something
once, deploy it everywhere, test it once, qualify it everywhere.”

That said, Juniper does have other operating systems in its product mix beyond JUNOS.

Juniper WAN acceleration
products use Web+Acceleration+WX-OS and their security
intrusion prevention systems
run Linux

“When we talk about a single OS, we are really talking about the networking OS that
drives our routing and switching platforms,” Bushong explained. “So for the platforms
that act primarily as routers and switches, the code is derived from a single code base.
Directionally, we will continue to integrate technologies into JUNOS software and extend
those capabilities to new platforms, spanning the routing, switching, and increasingly
the security products.”

Though Juniper’s JUNOS is now turning 10 it’s still somewhat younger the its rival
Cisco’s core networking operating system IOS, which originally stood for Internetworking
Operating System.

“Cisco IOS is the core software technology at Cisco and was initially introduced in
our first gateway products, the name at the time for a router,” Cisco spokesperson Linda
Horiuchi told InternetNews.com. “Cisco was founded in 1984. In our on-going
commitment to address customer requirements, we have continued to enhance and add
innovative new capabilities to Cisco IOS numerous times.”

Article courtesy of InternetNews.com

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