Juniper Rolls Out SDN Controller, Software For Service Providers


Juniper Networks Sunday used the opening day of this week's Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona to unveil a line of software-defined networking technologies for the service provider market.

Juniper's news -- which includes a new controller and network management software -- rounds out a string of recent product launches from networking giants Cisco Systems and Alcatel-Lucent that were focused on network functions virtualization (NFV) and SDN solutions for carriers.

Hewlett-Packard, meanwhile, said last week it's readying the launch of a new business unit dedicated to NFV.

[Related: New Juniper CEO Lays Out Restructuring, Cost-Cutting Plan]

NFV and SDN are complementary, but different, technologies. As Juniper explained it, NFV focuses more on the optimization of network services for service providers, while SDN is more about the separation of the network control and forwarding planes in the data center. Both, however, are aimed at increasing network scale, automation and manageability.

Juniper said its NFV strategy is still underpinned by the Contrail controller it unveiled last year. "Contrail is really our platform for network virtualization for the data center network and for NFV," said Michael Marcellin, senior vice president, strategy and marketing, at Juniper. "It's really the front door to provide all of the service chaining that we offer."

This week's new SDN products, however, are designed to work alongside Contrail in service provider environments, Marcellin said.

These new products include Junos Fusion, network management software that lets service providers automate and control thousands of network devices, including core and edge routers, along with optical or mobile devices, from a single management plane. The idea, Juniper said, is that Fusion can reduce operational costs and complexity by "collapsing" these network devices into a single point of control.

Marcellin said Fusion can be used to manage not just Juniper devices, but those from third-party vendors, as well. To run it, service providers need to have deployed either Juniper's MX or PTX series routing platforms.

Secondly, Juniper rolled out its new NorthStar Controller, based on the technology it gained through its December acquisition of Wide Area Network Design Laboratory, or WANDL, for $60 million. NorthStar is meant to identify the most optimal path for traffic to flow within multivendor service provider networks, based on the carrier's set performance and cost requirements. While NorthStar is based on legacy WANDL network design and planning technology, Marcellin said Juniper took that technology and made it work in real time.

"When network changes happen, analytics get pulled and [service providers] can truly optimize and shape their networks dynamically," Marcellin said.

NEXT: Juniper's Service Provider Strategy