Juniper Brings Intent-Based Networking to the Edge

This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala – eWEEK.

New features in Jupiter’s Apstra product extend automation capabilities to the IoT and cloud edge.

Many predicted that the cloud would be the death knell for data centers. The use of public cloud services would make data centers obsolete – but that never came true.

In fact, the data center has never been more important. The enterprise is going through a data center Renaissance, where everything is moving to some kind of data center – whether it’s in a centralized public cloud, private cloud or edge location.

Data Center Demand is Growing

As people continue to work from home and consume more applications/services in a distributed way, there will be even greater demand for data centers. To help explain why that’s the case, I recently spoke with Michael Bushong, Vice President of Cloud-Ready Data Center at Juniper Networks. Highlights of my ZKast interview, done in conjunction with eWEEK eSPEAKS, are below.

  • A divergence is taking place. Organizations are moving to hybrid environments that combine on-prem, software as a service (SaaS) workloads, and the cloud. According to ZK Research data, 95 percent of enterprises plan to adopt hybrid cloud. Specifically, larger enterprises prefer this model since they have complex workflows, data sovereignty issues, and regulatory requirements that prevent them from moving everything to the public cloud.
  • As a result, the data center has evolved beyond the four walls of the enterprise. It has become more about operations, extending to different areas in the network. Many organizations hadn’t really moved to true cloud operations. There is now a shift toward true multicloud—meaning one operational construct across all the clouds, not just multiple centralized clouds.
  • Another major disruptor in data centers is the edge, which gave rise to the distributed cloud. This model spans public clouds, private clouds, and edge locations in distributed environments, changing the role of the network and data centers. Distributed edge offers cloud-like operations, so organizations can preserve a consistent user experience when deploying apps across different locations and connectivity modes.
  • Historically, the cloud served as a central location for hosting users, data, and apps. The distributed edge is changing that by taking apps/data and bringing it closer to the users. It’s no longer sufficient to just route everything through data centers. Instead, data centers must be pushed closer to the users.
  • In 2020, Juniper acquired intent-based networking (IBN) software provider Apstra, in an effort to help enterprises automate data center operations. Through the acquisition, Juniper gained the IBN software, intent-based analytics (IBA), and the Apstra Operating System (AOS). Apstra is the only IBN provider with multi-vendor solutions. It helps organizations avoid vendor lock-in by deploying services, apps, and devices in existing data centers regardless of the providers.
  • Juniper recently made several announcements, extending Apstra’s intent-based networking to new deployments at the edge. Juniper is exploring use cases like Internet of Things (IoT), smaller data centers, and telco cloud—where carriers are distributing their data centers out in support of 5G services.
  • Enterprises often have many apps all running in different data centers, supported by various vendors. The latest Apstra software release features group based policy (GBP), which enables micro and macro segmentation of data. GBP allows organization to fix problems quickly, rather than finding out that their policies are not working as intended in the middle of a serious security incident like a ransomware attack.
  • Having a network that’s up and running is not a sufficient measure of success. User experience is the new uptime, especially with hybrid work putting additional strain on the network. That’s why Juniper introduced experience-first networking across wired, wireless, and software-defined wide area (SD-WAN) networks. Juniper is leveraging Apstra to provide organizations with visibility of every user, every device, and every app.

Author: Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.