Juniper Networks has decided small is beautiful, so the latest iteration of its MX router is a virtual router that fits on a USB stick.
It's not just an SDN play: shipping a full-featured MX router licensed in per-100 Mbps or per-Gbps performance slices gives the Gin Palace a product that can be sold in much greater volume than an 80 Tbps monster, with a lot less supply-chain pain.
Juniper's Steve Shaw told The Register service providers had asked for a product that “that scaled down more cost-effectively”, to give them more deployment options. Hence the vMX 3D, which the company describes as a “universal edge router”.
“It has all the same capabilities – you provision and manage the vMX through the same interfaces”, Shaw said. At the same time, it gets MX capabilities into places where it would be too costly to deploy the Juniper hardware.
Use-cases Shaw cited include branch offices that only need 100 – 200 Mbps, but even a large carrier might see the vMX as useful: for example, if a customer is looking for a connection to an overseas location, “I can spin this up as a virtual machine, have it up an running fast, but still with the same features and capabilities as a full-blown router.”
The virtualised router would also give larger customers a useful staging platform for new software: “We release JunOS platform code two or three times a year,” he explained – but SPs are wary of taking their critical platforms offline for upgrades.
With vMX, he said, “you could start a virtual machine for a specific customer to try out a new build, with minimal risk to the network.”
The fine details of the licensing model are still being worked out, Shaw said, because of the divide between carriers that want routing to appear as capex and those who want it as opex. There will be two licensing modes, he told us, so that customers can choose between a perpetual license or one based purely on usage.
The other two big announcements from Juniper are Contrail Cloud, and Juniper DevOps.
Contrail Cloud is a straightforward bundling of its Contrail Networking – formerly the SDN controller – delivered as a turnkey environment to make it easier to deploy. It's wrapped up with management and orchestration, Shaw told Vulture South, and also includes the company's Firefly Perimeter virtual firewall with antispam, antivirus and IPS.
The idea is to let customers “create an NFV data centre from install, with minimal configuration load”.
JunOS DevOps brings the company's network OS into the scripted world of the data centre.
IT managers, Shaw said, are using scripting tools like Puppet or Chef to spin up data centres, and the roadblock is configuring switches and routers to “get things off the ground”.
“They want service provisioning of the switches and routers through the same architecture,” he said, for things like assigning ports and subnets to individual routes, enabling basic firewall and security elements, and so on. ®