Juniper Networks’ Apstra To Make Private Data Center Management ‘As Easy As Cloud’

Juniper Networks’ recently acquired Apstra 4.2.0 tool has new capabilities, including full network visibility with integrated flow data from multiple vendors and network provisioning via HashiCorp’s Terraform.


Juniper Networks is rolling out the latest release of its recently acquired Apstra tool in continuance of its mission to make private data center management as easy as cloud infrastructure management for partners and enterprise customers, according to the company.

Apstra 4.2.0 has a handful of new capabilities, including improved data collection and visualization, full network visibility with integrated flow data from multiple vendors, and network provisioning with Terraform, a software tool created by HashiCorp.

Juniper in 2021 acquired intent-based networking startup Apstra for an undisclosed sum. Apstra’s technology is helping Juniper build on its plans to inject AI all over the network for greater automation, specifically in the data center, according to Juniper.

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The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company last September introduced Apstra Freeform, a reference design to help automate data center workflows and serve as a “single source of truth” for data center configuration.

The latest version of Apstra 4.2.0 offers integrated, multivendor flow data for granular visibility and analysis into application traffic flows across the network without the complexity and cost of a separate monitoring system, the company said.

Juniper Apstra, said Ben Baker, Juniper’s senior director of business analysis and cloud/data center marketing, is the first and only data center fabric management and automation tool that has full flow visibility.

“Typically, these fabric management tools only give visibility and observability into network issues—things in the management plane, the control plane, the [Ethernet] EVPN or optics issues. Now, with this flow data, Juniper starts to link in applications with network performance,” he said. “The data centers exist for the applications … applications are the lifeblood of the data center. Once we start linking in applications with the performance of the network, ultimately, it’s going to benefit those end users.”

The second update to Juniper Apstra is improved network provisioning for customers using the Terraform infrastructure-as-Code (IaC) platform to automate their public cloud deployments. These customers can now use the Terraform provider for Apstra to automatically push configurations to the data center through Apstra without any API programming, the company said.

“There’s a lot of lofty talk about multi-cloud, and this Terraform provider for Apstra is an example of something real and tangible today that we’re doing and customers can use,” Baker said.

There are many forward-looking companies that adhere to DevOps principles that employ code to manage infrastructure that are using Terraform today to manage their public cloud instances, he said.

“What we’re saying is, if you love your Terraform, you can keep your Terraform and you can essentially manage your private data center infrastructure through Terraform because it links to Apstra automatically. You don’t need to mess around with APIs,” Baker added.

Juniper is continuing to keep Apstra true to its vendor-agnostic roots, Baker said.

“Multivendor is still a key, if not the key piece of our positioning,” he said. “Customers love it and it gives [users] a lot of strategic flexibility.”

Juniper in this release is also announcing integrated data center interconnect (DCI) management. Users can now customize intent-based analytics probes for telemetry and visibility into network operations, then explore and visualize the data using the new database query interface included in Apstra 4.2.0, the company said.

“We’re making DCI more granular, but at the same time simpler. Usually there’s a trade-off between the two—you don’t get both,” Baker said. “When your DCI management is more granular and simpler, ultimately that means you get better, more reliable disaster recovery.”

The Data Center Management Opportunity

Since the addition of Apstra into Juniper’s data center strategy, channel partners are increasingly building practices around private data center management, Baker said.

“Managing data centers historically has been incredibly complex. With Juniper Apstra [we’re] making that sale easier. For all the things that Apstra gives, if you’re a partner selling to an end customer, those multivendor capabilities give them powerful capabilities,” he said.

The technology allows for a more junior engineer to manage the data center life cycle as opposed to businesses being dependent on specific vendors’ command line interface certifications, Baker said.

“All these things are making data centers easy to manage, and it’s making that data center sale just a little bit simpler,” he said.

Apstra has been very successful with systems integrators and MSPs in particular, he said.