Juniper rewires the data center

Introduction of QFX10000, new fabric make QFabric an island unto itself.

Juniper Networks this week rolled out new data center switches to help customers address opportunities and challenges presented by cloud computing.

The new switches are yet another line of data center spine switches that have virtually no integration with Juniper's three-and-a-half year old QFabric portfolio.

Juniper says there will be 7.6 billion Internet users with 50 billion connected devices by 2020, continually accessing data around the globe. This necessitates higher levels of network performance, automation and scale for both enterprises and service providers to address growing demands on their IT infrastructure.

The new data center switches attempt to address this through dense 100G Ethernet connectivity. The new QFX10000 line is powered by a new Juniper ASIC called Q5, which offers telemetry for analytics and automation, and deep buffers.

The QFX10000 comes in three configurations. The QFX10002 is a fixed configuration 2RU switch that allows users to upgrade from 40GE to 100GE within the same switch. It supports up to 24 100G interfaces, 1 billion to 2 billion packets/sec of switching capacity, and up to 5.76Tbps of throughput.

The QFX10008 is a modular, eight slot chassis that delivers up to 48Tbps of total system capacity. It supports up to 240 100G ports and a switching capacity of up to 16 billion packets/sec.

The QFX10016 is a 16-slot chassis delivering system capacity of up to 96Tbps. It supports up to 480 100G ports and a switching capacity of up to 32 billion packets/sec.

Leaf switches for the QFX10000 series are the QFX5100, which was announced in October, 2013.

The switches come with a new fabric technology for data centers called Junos Fusion. Junos Fusion manages the data center network as a single system rather than individual network elements, Juniper says, and provides automation of common routines. Junos Fusion also has a feature called "virtual buffers" which allows users to leverage existing Juniper switches as virtual buffer memory for investment protection, the company says.

For automation and orchestration the new switch line supports Juniper's own Junos Space Network Director, and industry tools such as Puppet, Chef, Ansible, and OpenStack.

Junos Fusion uses the IEEE 802.1BR Bridge Port Extension standard for extending a bridge and its management beyond its physical enclosure and into a single-tier architecture. Observers note that this is the same technology Cisco uses for their Nexus switch fabric extenders. QFabric used a proprietary tagging method for bridge extension.

Though it shares some elements of Juniper's three-and-a-half year old QFabric -- such as a single-tier architecture -- Junos Fusion is yet another data center architecture from Juniper (MetaFabric and Virtual Chassis Fabric are others) and one in which QFabric cannot currently play. The QFX3008 QFabric Interconnect cannot be managed by Junos Fusion and the new QFX10000 cannot be managed by QFabric's Director, the controller of the older architecture.

With the QFX10000 as the data center spine, QFX5100 as the leaf and Junos Fusion as the fabric manager, Juniper looks to have all the pieces in place to replace QFabric -- which has been criticized for being too proprietary for large-scale market adoption and limited in network scalability -- element-for-element. But the company remains steadfast that QFabric is not being phased out as yet, that a development roadmap remains for the product.

"We're continuing to invest on all of our (product) portfolios," says Jonathan Davidson, executive vice president and general manager of Juniper Development and Innovation. "We continue on the continuity of the path customers have invested in."

"Scale demands from our customers lead to the QFX10000," said Jennifer Blatnik, Juniper vice president of cloud marketing.

In the race for 100G density, the QFX10000 currently outpaces Huawei's CE12816, which supports 192 100G ports, and Arista's 7500E, which support 96 100Gs.

The QFX10002 will ship first, in the second quarter. Pricing was not disclosed.

Juniper also this week enhanced its physical and virtual SRX firewalls. It unveiled Express Path, a services offload capability for the SRX5000 Series Services Gateways designed to boost throughput, reduce latency and improve session scalability to organizations, and enabling the firewall to keep pace with volumes of data traffic on the network.

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