Arrow To Bundle Juniper QFabric, IBM Converged Infrastructure


Distributor Arrow Electronics will begin providing training and support for a converged infrastructure reference architecture combining Juniper's QFabric system with IBM Flex System technology.

The move, unveiled in line with Juniper's Global Partner Conference in Las Vegas this week, is intended to make cloud-ready data centers simpler to deploy by offering bundled solutions, said Sean Kerins, president, North America, Arrow Enterprise Computing Solutions (ECS).

"We're seeing more and more of our pipeline tied to converged infrastructure conversations," Kerins told CRN. "What Juniper partners don't always have is a good server and storage answer when [QFabric] turns into a good opportunity. So what IBM and Juniper have here is technologies that really complement each other as part of the converged equation, especially against their various competitors."

[Related: Juniper's Data Center Play: Waiting for Results]

The bundled solutions initially will be available in the U.S. through Arrow ECS. According to Kerins, solution providers can buy pieces of the system a la carte if they so choose, but many will find value in the bundled solution, pretested and integrated by Arrow and sold as a single part number.

Juniper introduced QFabric in February 2011, and products began shipping that fall. QFabric isn't so much one product in particular as a framework tying together top-of-rack switches, interconnect devices and management software. The idea is to "flatten" the traditionally three-tiered data center architecture using a system that consumes less power, needs less equipment and is easier to manage.

Customer adoption of QFabric has been slow, according to partners, and the vast majority of the few hundred QFabric customers Juniper has thus far identified have acquired the QFX switch but not invested in full-stack QFabric solutions. Juniper has spent much of the past year, however, offering specialized training to partners on QFabric and expanding QFabric's addressable market with moves such as the release of a midmarket-centric version of the system.

Prakash Krishnan, director of global partner enablement at Juniper, said the company will continue to build QFabric enablement into its partner programs. Juniper's Advantage partner program, for example, includes a specialization, DC Fabric, and offers not-for-resell QFabric demo configurations to help Juniper solution providers close deals.

"Juniper will be identifying and enabling a core set of partners in each of our regions to sell, deploy and support all of our sophisticated systems and technologies, and Juniper QFabric is a clear example of that effort," Krishnan told CRN in a separate interview.

Juniper and IBM have a deep agreement in enterprise sales already; IBM resells Juniper's switches and routers, for example. IBM also has staked out a converged infrastructure position with its PureSystems line of combination compute-network-storage-management offerings.

Juniper added Arrow as a strategic distributor in 2011 to help it attack the data center opportunity, and Arrow is one of IBM's largest distributors as well.

"We'll be making an intense effort here to make sure the word is out and that both sets of partners know who to come to," Kerins said. "We expect to have interest from the Juniper partners and also our IBM partners getting much more comfortable with these solutions."

PUBLISHED JAN. 14, 2013