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Juniper Virtualizes the MX Router, Aims to Help Carriers Operationalize NFV

By Paula Bernier November 06, 2014

Juniper Networks today unveiled a virtualized version of its flagship MX edge router, introduced something called the Contrail Cloud, and added some features for easier configuration and management of new NFV- and SDN-based environments.

The new Juniper Networks vMX 3D Universal Edge Router, which will be available starting in the first quarter of next year, is a software-only solution that can run on industry-standard x86 servers.

This is important because network operators are increasingly interested in network functionality that exists as software only - so they can save costs and increase flexibility by running that software on the commercial off the shelf hardware of their choice. AT&T, BT Group, Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, and Verizon first made clear their interest in virtualized solutions when they established the ETSI Network Functions Virtualization Industry Specification Group in November 2012, and they’ve been working with various vendors on NFV efforts ever since.

“Some of the challenges facing providers of network services today are that resource and capacity planning is static, installation intervals are months vs. days or hours, and the network is not flexible enough to rapidly deploy new services to respond to ever changing market demands,” said Nav Chander, research manager of IDC’s Worldwide Telecom division. “Service providers that deploy programmable platforms that leverage network virtualization for scale, automation and faster service creation will have more flexibility to enter new markets, increase customer satisfaction and profitability.”

This new virtualized solution from Juniper offers all the same features as the existing MX edge router, a combined hardware/software solution introduced in 2006 that is in use by most of the world’s top 100 service providers. The Juniper Networks vMX 3D Universal Edge Router, which can be orchestrated by Contrail and OpenStack and managed by Junos Space, is just the company’s latest move on the NFV and software-defined networking front, of course.

Juniper, in late 2012, announced plans to acquire Contrail Systems; in early 2013 laid out its SDN strategy and in September of 2013 announced the commercial availability of Juniper Networks Contrail -  which had been in trials with more than 40 customers. Also, the same month, it open sourced Juniper Networks Contrail. And in January of this year Juniper unveiled a virtualized version of its Firefly small office security appliance.

Speaking of Contrail, Juniper also today revealed it is expanding the Contrail portfolio with the introduction of Contrail Cloud. This new offering is an OpenStack-based software platform for cloud resource orchestration that addresses compute, network, storage, and virtualization. Contrail Cloud was designed to enable service providers to expedite the turn up OpenStack data center platforms and quickly drop applications from Juniper and others into those data centers. Contrail Cloud, which is supported by such Juniper partners as Amdocs, Akamai, and Canonical, is slated for general availability by the end of this year.

The third tenet of Juniper’s news today involves the introduction of Junos DevOps capabilities. The Junos Continuity feature enables new enhancements to be added without requiring OS updates. Juniper also has integrated Junos with various configuration management solutions including Ansible, Chef, and Puppet, and programming languages Python and Ruby.

Steve Shaw, Juniper’s director of service provider marketing, says the three new offerings announced today will help service providers operationalize virtualization.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

Executive Editor, TMC

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