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Juniper switching boss talks technology challenges, Cisco Nexus 6000

Jim Duffy | April 24, 2013
Jonathan Davidson took over Juniper campus and data center switching when the two previously separate business units were combined following the departure of founding engineer R.K. Anand.

On the Path to Flat, is single-tier ever applicable in the campus?

What we hear from our customers around campus is specifically around similar types of issues. They're not saying "I have 1000% growth in East/West traffic every three months." That's not the problem. But they do care about simplicity. And they do care about automation. When you start to see some of the similar things that you're hearing, I do think that some of them will start to move over. Hence, the EX9200's applicability in the campus as well. So being able to take applications and services and run them on a common core platform, and is you think about an access point. Enterprise already has a wireless LAN SDN-type of solution. So what we want to do over time is actually bring those two elements together, which we talked about in our launch a few weeks ago. We see that as the first step toward making the campus environment a simpler place to do networking and network automation.

Where does your "Simply Connected" EX portfolio fit into all of this?

All EX platforms run Junos. Wherever we can go out and put OpenFlow on all of these platforms, we absolutely will. The reason I give it a qualifier of "wherever we can" is simply because we want to make sure we have right restrictions of our messaging to our customers appropriately. That said, we have publicly come out and stated which platforms will have OpenFlow by the end of this year, we've had OpenFlow out in demo version for well over a year. We have OpenFlow in a production network on our MXes that's running 100G through the MXes. That same OpenFlow code is going to be because it's Junos. It will run across the EX portfolio as well as the QFX portfolio at the same time. The team is hard at work at making that happen and it's simply a matter of time, not of will.

Why not converge the programmability and logical scale of the EX9200 with the low latency, single-tier characteristics of QFabric in one platform?

All of [the programmability] of Junos Virtual Control is applicable to both. Over time, you shouldn't be surprised if you start to see a simplification of how things are going to go, a simplification of building blocks, a simplification of architectures, and a simplification of where we're heading. So, simplification is key.

The EX9200 is targeted at Cisco's Nexus 7000 "M," QFabric at the Nexus 7000 "F" -- what's targeted at the Nexus 6000?

We believe that it's focused primarily on a very specific market in the financial sector. They predominantly care about latency. When you look at customers who care more about simplicity, automation -- what can I see inside of the network? -- then you have to make other trade-offs inside of the silicon. I can do on-chip memory or put those tables outside the chip. My tables can be much, much bigger -- offer logical scale, number of VLANs, number of routes, number of other things. But it means my chip's going to be a little bit smaller because I have to go off-chip, get what I need and then come back onto the chip. In order to go down that low latency path at the aggregation layer, you basically said, "I am not going to care about large logical scale." There are trade-offs that have to be made from a visibility and reporting perspective because you're not going off-chip and everything is on-chip. So knowing what I know from their data sheets, and knowing what I know from what they're doing from a latency perspective, it's all on-chip, which means they've had to make some pretty tough choices around how much logical scale that box is going to be able to do. So for customers who are in very large virtualized environments, they are going to run out of logical scale. And I'm not saying that that's the case with that platform; but I'm telling you the trade-offs you have to make from a silicon perspective. We fundamentally believe that, in the kinds of environments that the majority of data centers have today, they want large amounts of logical scale because of how VLANs are deployed today; and because of the tight packing of virtual machines on servers. So the fundamental belief is that aggregation box, the 6000, will be targeted to customers who care only about latency. There are other trade-offs they had to make to go into that market.


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