Juniper Evolves Data Center Strategy With New MetaFabric Architecture, Switch Series

Juniper Networks Tuesday expanded its data center portfolio with a new architecture it says will simplify and accelerate the delivery of applications within and between multiple data center locations.

The new architecture, called MetaFabric, is being targeted at what Juniper called "next-generation cloud data centers," or those used by service providers and enterprise organizations to support new technologies like mobility, big data and, of course, the cloud.

Because these next-generation data centers often leverage a chain of multiple and remote locations, ensuring the flow of applications between them -- and a timely delivery of those applications to end users -- can be a challenge. That, Juniper says, is where MetaFabric comes in, providing an architecture that allows these disparate data centers to behave, operate and be managed as one.

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"Most of the small, medium and large enterprises that we serve have multiple data centers that they own and operate. They also often -- usually, in fact -- are using a cloud provider for some applications," said Mike Marcellin, senior vice president of Strategy and Marketing for Juniper's Platform Systems Division (PSD). "They need to connect their data centers to each other, and they need to connect their data centers to the cloud, ... so when we talk about a data center architecture like MetaFabric, it's more than just what sits inside the four walls of one data center."

Marcellin stressed that MetaFabric serves a very different function than that of QFabric, Juniper's flagship data center switching fabric introduced in 2011. In fact, he said, QFabric is technically a component of the MetaFabric architecture, helping to condense three-layer data center networks into a single, flat layer that is more easily managed.

QFabric, put simply, is designed for single data centers, whereas MetaFabric really shines in multidata center environments, Marcellin said.

"MetaFabric is quite broad in its notion of optimizing and simplifying switches in the data center -- which is the problem that QFabric solves -- and then optimizing how data centers connect to each other," he told CRN.

Jason Gress, founder and president of InterVision Systems Technologies, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based solution provider and Juniper partner, said MetaFabric represents a "big step forward" in Juniper's data center strategy.

"InterVision is constantly looking for ways to make it easier for our customers to deploy, utilize and manage network resources across their data centers. Juniper's new MetaFabric architecture is an intelligent approach to building cloud network architectures, and a big step forward for Juniper in their strategy to maximize the efficiency of data center resources," Gress wrote in an email to CRN. "We feel this message will resonate well with IT executives in explaining Juniper's value proposition across multiple data centers and large enterprise."

NEXT: The Make-Up Of MetaFabric

Like QFabric, a number of other Juniper technologies are underpinning MetaFabric. Among them is Juniper's new QFX5100 family of switches, also introduced Tuesday. The QFX5100 is a fixed configuration, top-of-rack switch offered in a variety of options, including a 32-port 40G switch as well as 72- and 96-port 10G switches.

Juniper said the QFX5100 family also supports its existing architectures, such as QFabric and the Virtual Chassis Fabric.

Also supporting the MetaFabric are updated version of Juniper's MX Series routers that support Ethernet VPN (EVPN), a feature Juniper says maximizes performance by carving out the most efficient forwarding path across the WAN.

Juniper's Marcellin also said the company's Junos Space Network Director network management platform -- which, until today, has been exclusive to campus network environments -- can now be used in the data center. This means Network Director can be used to manage and provision the MetaFabric architecture.

"Really, now we have a single tool for that campus and data center environment," Marcellin said.

To complement the MetaFabric launch, Marcellin said Juniper is rolling out a set of "MetaFabric Professional Services" through its channel to help customers plan, design and implement the solution.

"What we wanted to do is, since we are coming out with a lot of new stuff here, we've defined a blueprint for a set of professional services engagements that can help our customers understand what this is, help them implement, and help them evolve what they have already invested in to this new world," Marcellin said.