Juniper launches automated support services

Advanced Insight Service can initiate incident response, support calls

Juniper Networks is about to introduce new phone-home support services to discover and resolve security and performance incidents for customers. The company's goal is to help customers resolve problems faster -- and avoid troubles in the first place.

Advanced Insight Service (AIS) can deal with incidents as they arise, as well as regularly monitor ongoing network configurations to head off incidents before they occur.

AIS is a new option among Juniper's J-Care support offerings, and is different in that devices themselves upload information helpful to finding and fixing problems. This information can be sent to customer networking teams, as well as to Juniper tech support or third-party tech support that may have more expertise with Juniper gear.

This is a must-have service if Juniper expects to make advances into large enterprises -- one of the firm's stated goals, says Phil Hochmuth, an analyst with the Yankee Group. These potential customers likely already have similar automatic data-gathering and technical support regardless of what gear makes up their infrastructure, and they will not shift to Juniper without an equivalent replacement, he says.

This type of support is necessary to large businesses and is either provided through infrastructure vendors, third parties or via customers themselves. Cisco's IOS Service Diagnostics is a similar combination of technology and services, Hochmuth says.

AIS relies on new intelligence built into the latest version of Juniper's JUNOS operating system that detects problem signatures and other events within devices that might be of interest from a support perspective. This data can be pushed to Juniper support teams that offer varying levels of assistance depending on the service customers buy.

AIS requires a separate gateway application called Advanced Insight Manager (AIM) that taps into archives of formatted Juniper device logs and reports them to Juniper Support Systems, the company's service arm that handles customer product support and incident resolution.

The services depend on Advanced Insight Scripts running on Juniper devices that react to specific types of incidents and that provide data about incidents for analysis. The scripts can periodically gather data on events that can predict and prevent future risks, and they package this data in a structured format called a Juniper Message Bundle and archive it. These are the archives tapped by AIM.

Devices that support JUNOS and the intelligence feature include J-, M- and T-Series routers as well as EX and MX- switches. The company says it has plans to add the feature to other platforms -- such as firewalls, intrusion detection and WAN acceleration devices that run on other operating systems -- but no timetable.

The prices of these new services vary, but are determined based on an 8 per cent to 14 per cent premium that is tacked on to Juniper's basic support prices.

AIS has three levels: Efficiency, Continuity and Agility. The first includes automated incident management, assistance in maintaining device inventory and transferring knowledge about the devices. Continuity adds to those features accelerated access to Juniper's technical assistance and assignment of a support person from its service management desk. Agility builds on that by adding the ongoing monitoring of configuration data about individual devices with the idea of resolving issues that could lead to incidents.

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