Juniper Regroups, Debuts New Spine Switches & Silicon

After a tough year, the networking company launches a barrage of new hardware and software.

Marcia Savage

March 12, 2015

4 Min Read
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Since the abrupt resignation of its CEO in November, Juniper Networks seemed to be keeping something of a low profile, perhaps regrouping after a year of upheaval that included restructuring and layoffs. On Wednesday, it came out swinging with a slew of new products, including a line of spine switches, silicon, and new security functionality.

At Juniper's headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif., CEO Rami Rahim, who replaced Shaygan Kheradpir, appeared with Jonathan Davidson, the newly appointed EVP and general manager of Juniper development and innovation, to unveil the new products.

"We've streamlined, we've reorganized, we’ve made it far easier to make decisions and innovate," Rahim said. "It certainly feels like a startup. It feels like we're innovating like a startup."

The last year was one of significant change for the company, he said later during a Q&A session. "It wasn't an easy year. It was a year of aligning our strategy, restructuring, and extracting inefficiencies," Rahim said, adding that the company feels confident in its position in the industry now.

New spine switches

Juniper's new QFX10000 spine switch line targets cloud providers and enterprise data centers. It features new custom silicon, the Q5, and comes in three models. Juniper touted the QFX10002, which comes in a fixed 2-rack unit, as the most compact 100 Gigabit Ethernet spine switch. The other two models are chassis-based; the eight-slot chassis provides up to 48 Tbps of capacity while 16-slot chassis has capacity up to 96 Tbps.

Juniper said the Q5 ASIC provides reliability for the switches and an architecture to support demanding applications. Juniper also debuted new silicon for its core routing platform, which it claimed is the "world's most advanced silicon," capable of 500 Gbps of throughput in one direction.

Davidson said the company isn't against merchant silicon, but that it doesn't always meet customer requirements. "If we could have gotten merchant silicon to do what we needed to do, we would have used it," he said.

Figure 1:

With so much new hardware, Juniper seems to be bucking the trend in networking where software reigns supreme with the rise of software-defined networking and disaggregated networking based on commodity hardware.

"I joked to myself, 'Someone forgot to tell Juniper everything is software now'," networking expert Tom Hollingsworth of Gestalt IT told me in an email. 

"I think these are great releases. It makes you remember that the underlay is still important no matter how much software you put on top of it," he added. "They are really planning ahead with their ASICs."

Ethan Banks, a senior network architect and editor at Packet Pushers, said in an email interview, "Hardware still matters. The industry is seeing not only the need for ease of operation and flexible network configuration, but also the need for outstanding forwarding capacity. Traffic volumes never seem to fall."

The QFX10000 fills a hole in Juniper's switching line that its QFX5100 wasn't quite able to fill by itself, Banks said. "Since QFabric has not taken the market by storm, this was a needed play. I see this box as putting Juniper back into the conversation customers needing massive data center scale might be having with Arista or Cisco," he said.

The smallest spine switch will be available in the second quarter with the other two available in the second half, Davidson said. 

Along with the QFX10000 switches, Juniper unveiled new Junos Fusion software designed to provide a single point of management inside the data center. Using Fusion with Ethernet VPN (EVPN) and VXLAN provides customers with the agility of SDN without deploying a controller, Davidson told me in an interview. If they decide to deploy a controller, they can use VMware NSX or Juniper Contrail overlay technologies, he said.

Juniper's new virtual buffer technology helps customers address performance problems when deploying burst-producing workloads like Hadoop, Davidson said. "Competitors say you need to rip out your top-of-rack switches," he said. "This technology lets you keep your physical investment."

Boosting network security

Security was a big part of Wednesday's event as Juniper announced several new network security functions, including positioning its SRX security gateways as a platform for open policy enforcement. This allows the SRX to act as a single policy enforcement platform across the entire environment, Davidson said. "You don't have to continue to chain devices together at the edge of your network," he said. 

"Networking and security comes closer together," he told me.

Juniper also debuted Express Path for its SRX5000 gateways, which is designed to boost throughput to 1 Tbps and reduce latency. Another new security capability, AppSecure 2.0, provides next-generation firewall capabilities for its virtual firewall vSRX, which was previously called Firefly Perimeter.

AppSecure addresses the need for "micro-perimeterization," Davidson said, by protecting individual application instances as they are spun up.

About the Author(s)

Marcia Savage

Executive Editor, Network Computing

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