Juniper Networks CEO: Apstra Lets Customers Dictate Cloud Journey While Beating Arista, Cisco

‘I challenged Arista’s CloudVision to work on Cisco infrastructure, or Cisco ACI to work on Arista. It can’t be done. And it turns out that our customers care deeply about this openness,’ says Juniper’s CEO Rami Rahim.


Juniper Networks’ purchase of intent-based networking startup Apstra is simplifying data center operations and providing “public-cloud-like” automation of the public cloud at a time when enterprises are aggressively pursuing hybrid cloud, according to the networking giant’s CEO, Rami Rahim.

Juniper closed its acquisition of Apstra in January. Although still early days of the integration, Juniper is already seeing extremely high levels of interest in the technology, Rahim told CRN. Data center is becoming a “huge and important” area of opportunity for the company and its partners, he added.

Apstra’s technology is the “only” open data center management solution on the market today for hybrid cloud environments that can be installed on any virtual machine or server, Rahim said.

Sponsored post

“I challenged Arista’s CloudVision to work on Cisco infrastructure, or Cisco ACI to work on Arista. It can’t be done. And it turns out that our customers care deeply about this openness. We’re the only ones delivering it today,” he said.

[Related: Juniper Networks’ Rami Rahim On Apstra, ‘Experience-First’ Networking and How Juniper Mist is Taking Off ’Like A Rocket Ship’]

Integration Partners, a Lexington, Mass.-based Juniper partner that targets large enterprise and public sector customers, works alongside Juniper often on data center opportunities.

“Apstra make all the existing assets in Juniper’s portfolio even better because it reduces complexity, which can be a barrier for customers in unlocking the value of [private cloud],” said David Raftery, chief customer officer for Integration Partners.

Almost equally as important, Apstra is a best of breed tool, Raftery said. Integration Partners has clients that are not Juniper data center, or switching and routing customers, he added.

“They might have, for example, Cisco ACI fabric, and we‘re able to demonstrate with them that they can operate their Cisco ACI fabric far more efficiently using Apstra than the tools they have from Cisco,” he said. “It’s really interesting to see a heritage Cisco customer have the light bulb go on: ‘Yeah, there’s absolutely a better way to do this.’”

The interest from partners and end customers, Rahim said, is reminiscent of the excitement that solution providers and enterprises had around Juniper Mist in its early days, the company’s AI platform that is being injected across the entire wired, wireless, and now data center portfolios.

“I have a high confidence level that we‘re on to something in the data center, with Apstra, that looks very similar to Mist, in terms of crushing the cost and the complexity of running data center networks, is really going to pay off for our customers and our partners,” he said.

That’s because there‘s a “rebalancing” happening in the cloud space. Businesses are re-evaluating which applications and data should stay in a private cloud environment, and what can be offloaded to the public cloud, Rahim said. Unlike the cloud market just two years ago, businesses aren’t only moving to the public cloud, despite its promise of greater efficiency and in some cases, lower costs.

Customers of late have been making decisions to maintain a private, or multi-cloud environment but have concerns about operating a secure and reliable data center of their own, he added. “This is precisely why we bought and why we are integrating Apstra. It is designed ground-up by industry luminaries in the data center space to address that concern for our customers so they can achieve public cloud-like automation, but with the simplicity of what the public cloud brings to the table,” Rahim said. “This is why I feel so confident about that strategy right now.”

Juniper’s portfolio is “letting the customer decide and dictate” their own cloud journeys, Integration Partners’ Raftery said.

“My call to action for partners is to take another closer look at what we‘re doing in the data center space, because I think they’ll find it really compelling,” Juniper’s Rahim said.