Dell is going to OEM Juniper networking gear as well as Brocade's, because of Juniper's superiority in wide area networking and security.
It is going to take certain models of Juniper's MX Series services routers, EX Series Ethernet switches and SRX Series services gateways, all of which run Junos software. Dell will supply them as PowerConnect J-Series products, complementing its existing Brocade-based PowerConnect B-Series products, which include Ethernet and Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) switches and FCoE CNAs (Converged Network Adapters). Dell will also use Juniper's network management product.
Brad Anderson, Dell's senior vp for its Enterprise Product Group, said the Juniper agreement will help Dell "address many of our customer’s biggest challenges, including a dramatic rise in security concerns, an increasingly dispersed workforce and challenges brought on with the advent of the virtualised data centre.”
The background is the move to unified data centres, featuring virtualised servers and network fabric converged into Ethernet, which carries WAN and LAN traffic as well as storage networking traffic, currently sent via Fibre Channel cables and switches. The convergence onto Ethernet and use of virtualised servers and storage will help make data centres easier to implement and operate and increase their efficiency. This will help as organisations move to a cloud-like IT service model, where services are provisioned on demand and dynamically.
In response to this, Cisco and server/systems companies such as Dell, HP, IBM and Oracle/Sun are building integrated stacks of servers, networking and storage gear. Dell is using open standards to interconnect its stack components, as it believes many customers may still want to buy component layers of their unified data centres separately, rather than as a single all-in-one stack from a one-stop-shop.
Why Juniper? Larry Hart, Dell's senior manager for storage and networking, said: "We believe Juniper is a leader in WAN and security."
Broadly speaking, Juniper makes networking gear with bigger and faster switches than Brocade. Its products have been used, for example, by the New York Stock Exchange for backbone networking.
Juniper has a market capitalisation of $13bn versus Brocade's $3.2bn. It does not have an FCoE range but there is an overlap with Brocade in the Ethernet chassis area. Dell says it can offer complete IT for the virtualised data centre through the Juniper technology, including application mobility for disparate data centres and Ethernet Virtual Chassis technology. The Brocade technology will be used for FCoE applications "that will interoperate with legacy Fibre Channel SANs and provide customers with a transition to iSCSI."
We can conceive of an iSCSI storage array, a Dell EqualLogic one, that is accessed from servers in local and remote offices by J-Series switches and security gateways. We can also simultaneously conceive of Fibre Channel SAN-connected storage arrays accessed through B-Series 8000 products, by servers connecting using FCoE and CEE. Local users would access these arrays through B-Series 10gigE Netiron routers. Remote users would connect to one of these routers by a J-Series switch in their office. The servers and users accessing the Fibre Channel storage could also go through the Brocade network infrastructure and into the J-Series infrastructure to use the iSCSI storage.
Dell will collaborate with Juniper on what it describes as innovative, high performance Ethernet technology. They say they will develop open, standards-based products for virtualised data centres and deliver technology solutions using Converged Enhanced Ethernet (CEE), also known as Data Centre Bridging (DCB), and iSCSI to improve network economics. CEE is a lossless and low-latency version of Ethernet, currently going through the standards process and expected to be delivered by 2011.
Inside Juniper there is a Stratus project, understood to be in part a response to Cisco's UCS (Unified Computing System), involving close integration of virtualised servers, networking and storage. The project is managed by David Yen, who used to run Sun Microsystems' microchip business.
Dell and Juniper say they "intend to deliver a secure network infrastructure - from a customer’s traditional data centre out to its branch offices, remote workers, customers and business partners - that can dynamically adjust... and provide orchestrated management of users, workloads and data."
The idea is to provision end-to-end data centre services dynamically, from servers through networks to storage: a complete stack, as it were, for an application or user. This may involve Dell working with Juniper on the Stratus project.
With this move, Dell becomes a much stronger networking product supplier and will extend its reach so that it can cover the majority of data centre networking needs.
It is following in the footsteps of IBM, which announced an OEM deal with Juniper in August, under which it would supply re-branded Juniper EX and MX switches and routers. IBM also has a distribution relationship with Brocade for the supply of storage networking gear, such as its CNAs for its x servers, and Brocade's routers and switches.
No actual products resulting from the Dell/Juniper OEM agreement are being announced yet, but they can be expected next year, possibly even before. When they are announced they will be available to customers directly or through partners. ®