Juniper Advances 'Stratus' Agenda With Data Center Releases

Juniper on Monday launched new software, services and data center networking products that advance its Stratus data center agenda and provide new tools for Juniper partners in time for next week's J-Partner Summit in Phoenix.

The Stratus project, which Juniper has had in development since at least early 2008, is a data center initiative through which Juniper is aiming to create a single data center fabric. According to Juniper, the plan is still to unveil Stratus in the first half of 2011, and along the way, Juniper will continue to release new products and services that attempt to move data center architecture in Stratus' direction.

The latest of those new releases came Monday: new routers and 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches, four new software applications based on Juniper's Junos Space network application platform, security management software for use with Juniper's SRX Series Services Gateways, and a new maintenance services offering called Juniper Care Plus that will be offered through both Juniper's channel and through Juniper strategic partners like IBM.

"The architectural shifts in the data center have created new needs," said Michael Banic, vice president of product marketing for Juniper's Ethernet Platforms Business Group, in an interview with CRN. "The approach that other vendors have taken is throwing more boxes at it. Our model is about simplification, automation and security."

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Among the new Juniper gear is the EX-4500, a 48-port, 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch with virtual chassis, a new 40-port, 10 Gigabit module for Juniper's EX8200 Ethernet switch line, and the MX-80 3D router, which according to Banic is optimized for virtual private LAN services (VPLS) and virtual machine mobility.

No existing Juniper products will be dropped, Banic said. The EX-4500 is expected to be available this quarter and start at $32,000. The MX-80 3D is available now, and the EX8200 modules are expected in Q3.

For Junos Space, the development platform for Juniper's Junos operating system that it first introduced last fall, Juniper is now offering four new applications. The first, Virtual Control, built as part of a new Juniper partnership with VMware on top of VMware's open APIs, manages physical and virtual systems from a common platform. Elsewhere, Ethernet Design and Security Design enable quick configuration of data center networks with enterprise security policies, and Service Now with Service Insight for detection and troubleshooting of network issues.

"These are about seamless management of both physical and virtual assets," Banic said. "And for Security Design, instead of having to hire people who understand esoteric security rules, you can provide the ability to set security policy and let network administrators easily manage consistent security policy across their enterprise."

According to Juniper, Junos Space applications packages will start at $4,000 and will run all the way up to $950,000 for full-service bundles across unlimited devices. Ethernet Design is available now, Security Design is expected this quarter, and Service Insight and Virtual Control are expected in Q3.

Also new to Juniper's security portfolio is AppTrack, a software package for use with its SRX Series Service Gateways to manage applications, data flows and network traffic foul-ups.

Juniper further said that IBM has begun shipping OEM versions of the SRX Series, and that Juniper's new network support services package, Juniper Care Plus will be available in Q4 through Juniper and its partners, including IBM.

NEXT: Juniper Takes Aim At Data Center Competitors

Banic said Juniper VARs should look at the announcements as the next phase in Juniper's evolving enterprise data center strategy and as a way to differentiate themselves from the "thousands of partners" out there selling rival data center equipment and services from Cisco and other competitors.

"This is a way for them to grow their revenue share without having to necessarily add more customers," Banic explained. "They can offer a very different architectural approach that represents true value. We don't have an oversaturated channel and we don't want to be an overdistributed channel. We have tools in place that protect our partners."

The EX8200, for example, is offered under Juniper's recently announced Switch to Juniper promotion, a trade-up program through which Juniper is offering discounts of up to 60 percent on select Ethernet switches bought through Juniper partners.

The goal of the trade-up program and promotions like it, Banic said, is to help Juniper VARs take advantage of the data center upgrade and refresh cycles coming out of the recession. Also, he said, 10 Gigabit Ethernet products are still the exception, not the rule in the enterprise, and the move from 1 Gigabit to 10 Gigabit gear will be a slower, more gradual market transition than the move from fast Ethernet to 1 Gigabit Ethernet was in the last decade.

Project Stratus is the end game for Juniper's own data center transition, Banic said, and "will allow you to turn a pool into an ocean" with regard to how it manages virtual data. The hoped-for single data center fabric, in other words, will be able to dynamically allocate any resource in the data center -- from network routing to server management -- without compromising another.

"Each one of the steps we're revealing to the market runs on Junos and is administered with Junos Space," Banic explained. "These are not disruptive releases for our customers. Our competitors, however, are revealing new things in the market that require major disruptions, running on new software that doesn't support the features in the old software. Juniper is the only vendor that's doing it this way."