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Juniper Launches New Fabric Architecture, Switch Line

Juniper Networks' MetaFabric architecture, including new QFX5100 switches, aims to speed up application deployment and streamline network operations.

Juniper has announced MetaFabric, a new architecture that Juniper claims will accelerate the deployment and delivery of applications. As part of the launch, Juniper announced the new QFX5100 switch line. These ToR switches include configurations for 10GbE and 40GbE. The company also announced enhancements to Junos Space Network Director, management software for Juniper hardware.

The MetaFabric is a concept that’s built around several key parts. One is the Virtual Chassis Fabric, which is an extension of Juniper’s existing Virtual Chassis. Virtual Chassis lets administrators manage up to 10 switches as a single device.

Virtual Chassis Fabric creates a fabric of up to 20 QFX5100 switches in a leaf-spine topology, with 2 to 4 leaf nodes and up to 18 spine nodes. This creates a one-hop connection from any access point to any access point, said Jonathan Davidson, SVP and GM for Juniper’s Campus and Data Center Business Unit.

The Virtual Chassis Fabric doesn’t require the use of a separate QFabric Director, which is used as part of a fabric deployment for other Juniper network devices. “We integrated QFabric Director into the switches themselves, so you don’t need an external control plane,” said Davidson.

[This summer, Cisco updated its own fabric with network overlay capabilities. Get the details in “Cisco Accelerates SDN Strategy With Dynamic Fabric Automation.”]

The second component is the QFX5100 switches. At present, there are three switches in the family. The 48S offers 48 10GbE ports, the 24Q offers 24 40GbE ports (with an option to expand to 32 via expansion modules). Both are 1U switches. The third is the 96S, a 2U aggregation switch with 96 10GbE ports. Juniper also says its existing EX9200 switch can work within the Virtual Chassis Fabric.

The third component is enhancements to Junos Space Network Director management software. The software can manage wired and wireless Juniper devices. Administrators can set up device configuration profiles to provision multiple systems at once. The company also says Network Director provides visibility into both the physical and virtual components of the network, including a VM analyzer capability that tracks VM creation, moves and deletion, and provides real-time physical and virtual topologies. The Fabric Analyzer capability monitors the health of the network fabric.

Network Director also includes APIs to integrate with OpenStack, CloudStack and VMware vCenter.

Juniper also announced an enhancement to its MX router that lets the router connect disparate SDN “islands” that may be deployed within a data center. “The MX, with our silicon, can terminate VXLAN tunnels and route between VXLAN islands,” said Davidson. “We can, from a data plane perspective, be a universal translator between different controllers.”

The MetaFabric announcement follows closely on the official launch of Contrail, Juniper’s network virtualization platform. Released in September, Contrail is a network overlay that builds tunnels between virtual machines. Juniper also released the Contrail source code under an Apache 2.0 license. Drew is formerly editor of Network Computing and currently director of content and community for Interop. View Full Bio

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