Juniper Networks CEO: ‘The Goal Now Is A Self-Driving Network’

‘The future, I truly believe, is about getting the network out of the way. It is time for the infrastructure to take a back seat to the self-driving network,’ says Juniper CEO Rami Rahim.


Perhaps now more than ever, cloud-first, AI-driven networking is critical as network administrators have their hands full helping their entire companies work remotely, according to Juniper Networks executives.

Juniper in 2019 acquired AI-powered networking startup Mist Systems for $405 million for its cloud-native wireless LAN and AI technology. Juniper, now with Mist Systems' technology, is injecting AI into enterprise networks across both the wired and wireless LANs through Mist’s AI engine, Marvis. Current conditions are creating "the perfect cocktail" for AI to take off today, said Juniper CEO Rami Rahim during his keynote at the company's firm's virtual AI event on Thursday.

"The goal now is a self-driving network," Rahim said. "The call to action is to embrace the change. We can all benefit from putting more time into higher-layer activities, like keeping distributors out of the business. The future, I truly believe, is about getting the network out of the way. It is time for the infrastructure to take a back seat to the self-driving network."

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[Related: Juniper Networks: 'We Made The Hard Pivot And Are Now Set For Great Growth']

AI will help "future-proof" the WAN and prepare it for the cloud era as enterprises embrace a cloud-first mentality, Rahim said. "This has never been more important if you think about the pressure the WAN is under today as everyone works from home," he said.

Juniper's customers are using Mist's Marvis to eliminate the "human work" needed to pull data from the network and devices on the network, diagnose the issue, and then fix it. Hanover, N.H.-based Dartmouth College, a Juniper customer, is now solving 75 percent of its helpdesk tickets with no human intervention. Retail giant Gap Inc., another Juniper customer, saw a 97 percent improvement in point-of-sales system errors across their 1,500 stores, Rahim shared.

"Those that think Mist is just a gap filler for a wireless LAN solution inside Juniper are missing the point," he said. "Mist forms the foundation of the AI-driven enterprise and our plan is to extend the Mist platform across our entire enterprise portfolio."

Juniper has had Mist's "game-changing" technology under its belt for a little over a year and is providing advantages to some of Juniper's largest enterprise customers, all the way down to the smallest enterprises, Rahim said.

While Rahim said that AI is one of the most overhyped and underhyped technologies across any industry today and recognized there's still a lot of skepticism around AI, there's no denying that the AI opportunity will be massive, with up to $50 billion in worldwide AI spend by 2021, according to Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Juniper.

Gordon Mackintosh, vice president of global channels and virtual Sales at Juniper Networks, told CRN that for new logos for Mist's AI-powered solutions is up 100 percent year-over-year for both Mist wired and wireless LAN solutions.

"The enthusiasm and excitement in the channel has been tremendous," Mackintosh said.

An AI approach to IT will help partners offload some IT tasks and invest in new services, while spending less time and money serving existing customers, he said. "It ultimately allows them to deliver a more reliable service that can scale and grow to reach more customers in a cost- effective way."

Along with working AI into every piece of the Juniper portfolio, Juniper wants to create an AI-driven channel, too. Mackintosh said. To do that, the firm will embed AI into the partner portal to understand what partners kinds of information partners are looking for, or actively forward data to help move along the sales cycle when a partner is registering a deal.

"We want to leverage AI in everything we do," he said. "Our partner experience fueled by AI will make it as successful as possible. That's something I'm really excited about and keen to bring to partners."