Juniper Expands QFabric Portfolio To Target Midsized Data Centers

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Juniper on Tuesday confirmed the new release of its QFabric data center system targeted at mid-sized data center customers -- a move that will expand QFabric's channel viability beyond the handful of partners already selling it, according to Juniper executives.

As part of a slew of data center-related releases, Juniper is also highlighting enhancements to its EX8200 modular switch lines, including quadrupled management capacity over previous versions.

QFabric, which Juniper announced in February 2011 after several years of speculation over what was previously called "Project Stratus," is the core of Juniper's strategy to "flatten" the traditional three-layer data center into something far more easily managed, with less power and equipment required, at a single tier.

[Related: Juniper's Mykonos Business Unit Offers Web Security Enhancements]

In practice, QFabric is actually a set of devices and software, starting with top-of-rack switches and including everything from interconnects to a device management platform. It's with QFabric that Juniper is competing against vendors such as Cisco, HP, Brocade, Avaya, Extreme and Enterasys, all of which are challenging for converged networking/data center supremacy using some variation on the so-called "fabric" strategy.

Juniper has been cagey about how quickly QFabric has seen customer adoption. During Juniper's first quarter earnings call in late April, the company said it had 150 QFabric customers but did not specify how many customers were purchasing QFX switches versus customers that were acquiring more of the solution set. As of late April, Juniper said there were two full-fabric QFabric deployments with customers in China and Australia.

Now comes a push to broaden QFabric's appeal. New to the Juniper lineup as of this week is the QFX3000-M QFabric system, in which Juniper has taken the benefits of its existing QFX3000-G and scaled them down for customers in more of a mid-tier price range.

Whereas the previous -G QFabric can scale to 6,144 10 GbE ports and offers performance of 5 microseconds latency per packet, the new -M QFabric version scales to 768 10 GbE ports with performance of 3 microseconds latency per packet. The -G level QFabric system is targeted at cloud providers, large enterprises, governments and high-performance computing environments, but the -M level systems are intended for mid-sized enterprise data centers and smaller, space-constrained environments such as certain colocation facilities.

Juniper claims QFabric requires 74 percent fewer cables, 57 percent less power, 29 percent fewer devices and 63 percent less physical space than competitive systems. The major difference between the -M and the -G level system that's been shipping for the last 10 months is that the -M level system both has a different interconnect device -- the XFX3600-I, which is a fixed-form-factor unit that allows customers to scale their 10 GbE ports incrementally -- and is, at 19.4 inches in depth, quite a bit smaller than the -G level QFX 3008-I interconnect.

NEXT: New QFabric Channel Opportunities

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