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By | Richard Chirgwin 4th November 2015 07:57

Juniper hardware and software to sleep in separate beds

Run Junos on white boxes? Sure! How about other NOSes on our boxes? Yep to that too

Juniper has decided to embrace the spirit of the white box, by loosening the bonds between Juniper hardware and its Junos software.

It's a change that works both ways, as the company's corporate VP for development and innovations Denise Shiffman told The Register: both Junos and Juniper hardware will be available as discrete products.

Shiffman said Juniper would like to see DevOps-y organisations “develop their own applications or network services” on Juniper hardware, with environments like OpenStack, Apache and Netconf running on Linux on the switch.

Customers like service providers, she said, often have software running operations like telemetry that are specific to their environment.

The disaggregation also means Juniper customers can use the Open Compute Project model to program directly to switches.

The first hardware to support the disaggregation is the QFX5200 series of 25/50 Gbps Ethernet switches, which also have a new pricing model that separates the hardware purchase from software licenses.

Shiffman also hopes the disaggregated model will be attractive to partners selling to enterprises that are looking to virtualisation and software-defined networking (SDN) in their private infrastructure.

Enterprises would get more control over how their switches run, she said, how they manage their devices, and how they choose the orchestration system they want – all of which provide openings for channel partners.

“You have the opportunity for third parties to add value onto the box”, she said.

Given the risk that Juniper will be perceived as trying to compete in the white box market, it's no surprise that the company wants to remind users it's had years to build worldwide distribution and support operations. Startups, by definition, haven't done that yet.

Even so, the fact that Junos can now be installed on Open Network Install Environment-compliant third-party switches means Juniper recognises some customers will want other vendors' white boxes in their data centres.

The other announcement to come out of Juniper's NXTWORK 2015 summit is in the network function virtualisation (NFV) space: a Cloud CPE system designed to complement its existing Contrail Cloud OpenStack environment, and Contrail Networking service chaining and SDN solutions.

The Cloud CPE includes service orchestration under Contrail, and the CPE hardware itself, the NFX250, designed to provide a base set of services at the customer side. The NFX250 runs up to eight virtualised network services.

Shiffman told The Register the NFX250's virtualisation (with services defined, orchestrated and chained from the provider's side) cuts down the number of boxes (and truck rolls) shipped to the customer, and means services can be upgraded or changed from the provider side without disrupting the user services. ®

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