Juniper's Vision: One Secure Network For All

The event took place at Juniper's headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif., and featured presentations by many of the company's top executives about its product lines and solutions.

Perhaps the most far-reaching discussion centered around Juniper's vision for what it calls "infranets," or networks that combine "the reach of the Internet with the assured performance and security of private networks." The company has formed an alliance with close to 30 companies, all trying to build a standard that will allow any-to-any device communication across IP networks.

Juniper handed out a brochure called "The Foundation Infranet: A cookbook for network service providers." It outlines the technological principles of the vision, which Sindhu says already is being implemented on a small scale at a handful of companies, much like intranets or virtual private networks.

"The fundamental value of communication derives from an any-to-any principle," says Juniper founder and CTO Pradeep Sindhu. "Our goal is to create a single-packet infrastructure to run all communications applications. This initiative combines the best aspects of private networks and the Internet, and it's the inevitable destination for the networking industry."

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It's definitely something to shoot for, but at this point the coalition of companies doesn't include Cisco, something the event attendees were quick to point out. (Microsoft also is absent from the alliance.) Sindhu downplayed Cisco's non-participation, in part, by making the standard second-place vendor push for more competition.

"Cisco's goal is aligned with ours in that we both want to succeed," he says. "Juniper sees that standards must be open, because if they're not, one vendor gets pre-eminence, which is bad for the industry."

Nevertheless, Sindhu stopped short of saying that the infranet alliance is trying to rewrite the networking rule book, hinting at the possibility that unlimited bandwidth access may eventually come with a cost.

"We don't want to build another standards organization with this group, but we need to make it easier to enable more network usage, and it cannot be that bandwidth will always be free," Sindhu says.

Many of the day's presentations centered on Juniper's work with its core base of network service providers and carriers. Judy Beningson, vice president and product manager for infrastructure products, says carriers have reached an inflection point in the market.

"There's a lot of scary change going on; carriers are selling more minutes than ever but getting less money out of it," she says. "There are so many new services they want to offer, but they can't build a new network every time, which is why all the services will eventually run over a single IP network."

Kittu Kolluri, Juniper's vice president and general manager of the security products group, says that in building its security practice and the channel around it, the company is being as selective as possible.

"We approach security as an inherent service layer that preserves a customer's prior investments without requiring a homogeneous network or a lot of upgrades," he says. "As we bring in partners to help us build this, we want to target ones that are agents for change at the cutting edge."