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Thursday, 29 October 2009 10:04

Juniper opens its networks to third party applications

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Juniper Networks has unveiled an addition to its Junos operating system that allows customers to directly program their networks of Juniper switches, routers and security gateways. It comprises the Junos Space network application platform and the Junos Pulse integrated network client designed to run on a wide range of end user devices, including the iPhone.


Junos Space is billed as an open development and deployment platform for network applications, which enables customers and third-party developers to simplify network operations, automate support and accelerate service delivery.  The announcements were made along with others , including a rebranding, in what Juniper said was the biggest announcement in its 12 year history.

According to Mike Harding, vice president and general manager of the Junos Space business "The new network is a platform for innovation that is now open...In 2007 we opened the core Junos operating system to third parties and now have a growing number of partners developing applications for that core network...We believe we have an opportunity to build on this and extend the software platform all the way to the network end point...with Junos Space and Junos Pulse."

Harding said: "Junos Space is designed from the ground up to be simple...We have a heritage as an industry of exposing every feature and function of our devices and inflicting them on our customers...With Junos Space we are fundamentally re-examining what cross network infrastructure should look like.

"First, it should solve a problem, and not everyone has highly skilled network engineers. We need to take that expertise and encapsulate it in software and that is what we have tried to do in Junos Space."

Junos Space has been launched with three applications: Ethernet Activator, claimed to enable customers to quickly create and activate services, including activation of VPN services; Route Analyser - developed by a third party, Packet Design - which provides DVR-like recording and playback capability to plan, simulate and troubleshoot MPLS networks; and Service Now, which speeds resolution of service issues by having Juniper systems "call" Juniper support experts with troubleshooting data and details.

According to Harding, "Ethernet Activator is aimed at service provider and enterprise customers. For service providers this is about fast, accurate provisioning of services. Benchmarked against the best in the industry, we believe we can provide an 10x improvement."

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Harding said that one large customer of Packet Analyser had said: "This is fantastic. When we use it we see a 30 x reduction in time to recover [from a failure]."

He added: "We have a full roadmap of R&D over then next four quarters. We will develop apps for campus switching, security, virtualisation, for cloud, for WAN optimisation...We will focus on organic applications around the infrastructure and count on the partner ecosystem to help us with business, productivity and collaboration applications."

Junos Pulse is a new integrated multi-service network client that combines remote SSL and VPN access and WAN acceleration, presently available from Juniper as separate network clients - into a single application that "hides security complexity to deliver a better experience for users wherever they are." Junos Pulse will provide location-aware and identity-aware access to networks, including enterprise access controls.

 Harding said: "We have made it standards based so we can integrate other types of application, for example anti virus or endpoint security from companies like McAfee and Symantec. Ultimately our intent is that it will be the only network client you need. This is only a first step for us."

Juniper's existing network client software has been licensed to run on more than 20 million PCs and mobile devices worldwide, and these users will have a seamless upgrade path to Junos Pulse, the company says.

The Junos Space platform and applications are available now for download and free trial – pricing starts at $15,000. The Junos Pulse client will be available in first half 2010. The software development kit for Junos Pulse will be generally available in the second half of 2010.

Commenting on the new product, the Yankee Group's Jennifer Pigg said: "Juniper's path to innovation diverges sharply from that of its competitors. Up until now, network applications such as security, configuration and planning, and policy management have been tied to the specific hardware and chipsets to which they were written: firewalls, network routers and switches, and policy servers.

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"As a result, while these network applications may be robust in their own right, they are difficult to integrate with each other or to customise or modify. In addition, because they are tied to the hardware on which they run, these applications cannot leverage advances in computing and development architectures."

According to Pigg, Junos Pulse is "the only standards-based integrated network client available in the industry today...[providing] an open-architected, dynamically provisioned identity and location aware software client that enables mobility, connectivity, security and application acceleration, offering continuous support for third-party application development and integration."

She contrasted Juniper's approach to the development of network applications with those of Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent. Cisco has an extensive internal network application development programme, and a development programme, the Application extension Platform (AXP), focused on its Integrated Service Router (ISR) family of enterprise routers, but Pigg said: "Yankee Group does not expect to see Cisco move aggressively to open up [its operating systems] IOS, IOS-XR or IOSXE for third-party development due to the company's focus on internal development for applications that reside on the routers and switches, and also due to the complexity of opening up IOS."

Pigg said that Alcatel-Lucent "is focused on developing its own software ecosystem and states that it does not have plans to open up its network OS, via APIs and an SDK, to support a third-party development programme. There are two areas in its service provider line of business, however, where the vendor actively pursues third-party collaborative development. The first is ALU's Connected Partner Programme... The second area of collaboration is in data warehousing."

According to Analysys Mason, Juniper's approach with Junos Space differs in significant ways from other solutions. "Router-based solutions exist which provide visibility of network traffic and allow CSPs to prioritise different types of traffic and rate-limit traffic. These are network-based solutions, and certainly scale better than CPE-based solutions; they also give CSPs the ability to guarantee the performance of applications. However, they do not provide a development environment, and rarely, if ever, come with applications apart from tools like analytics and reporting.

"There are also service delivery platforms (SDPs), which are open, standards-based IT platforms that provide a rich development environment and enable collaboration with third parties. They do not, however, have control over the network, which negates their utility in terms of providing guaranteed service performance.

"Lastly, most OSS solutions have automated processes for tasks such as order activation, provisioning and troubleshooting. However, few of these have the same focus on the user experience as Junos Space, and most assume that they will be run by highly technical operational staff. While these systems can define service components and activate services, they are not service creation environments in the same sense as Junos Space as they are purely based on the existing capabilities of the network. They also do not provide a platform to run applications that take full advantage of automation.

"Juniper has taken a different approach by providing a platform, rather than just a network management system. Juniper has abstracted the network so that CSPs can leverage network assets as a whole, and think more about managing services rather than managing networks. It has taken a page from IT systems suppliers by offering an open, standards-based platform that provides a development and run-time environment for the creation and execution of services—but combines that with network control."

Stuart Corner travelled to New York for Juniper's announcement as a guest of the company.


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