Juniper Networks plays SDN catch-up with other network vendors

Unveils SDN roadmap, launches virtualized Mobile Control Gateway
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Juniper Networks (Nasdaq: JNPR) on Thursday unveiled a software-defined networking (SDN) roadmap and launched a number of SDN-based software and services, including its virtualized Mobile Control Gateway (vMCG) designed to enable mobile operators to handle the increase in traffic generated by the explosion of smartphone use.

The SDN product launches follow the release of Juniper's SDN strategy in late January. The strategy lays out principles for enterprises and service providers to transition from legacy network infrastructures to SDNs. Juniper Networks has been late to the SDN party, which IDC estimates could be worth $3.7 billion in 2016.

Last year, Juniper rivals Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO), HP (Nasdaq: HPQ), Brocade (Nasdaq: BRCD) and Arista all unveiled SDN plans to assist customers with the transition to SDN architectures. Juniper's first step in playing catch-up was its acquisition of SDN startup Contrail Systems for $176 million in December, according to a report by Network World.

A centerpiece of Thursday's announcement is Juniper's vMCG. Co-developed with Hitachi, the vMCG runs as a virtualized function on the JunosV App Engine, providing signaling and controlling functions to LTE, 3G and 2G radio access networks. This enables mobile operators to scale capacity up and down to meet demand requirements, increase service velocity and reduce costs, Juniper explained in a release.

Juniper added that the primary goal of the gateway is to support the heavy signaling load generated by smartphones. The number of smartphones is expected to double over the next three years, and cloud computing and machine-to-machine communications are making mobile traffic more volatile and changing traffic flow patterns, said ACG Research in a recent report.

In the report, ACG Research said the vMCG "delivers elastic capacity by employing an MX 3D router that provides a single point of management, virtualization through the JunosV App Engine, and low technology costs using Virtual Services Engines, Juniper's industry standard x86-based blade servers."

Commenting on the vMCG launch, Ray Mota, managing partner with ACG Research, said: "Our research has validated that Juniper's virtual Mobile Control Gateway (vMCG) has a 54 percent lower total cost of ownership over five years and the time to deploy the initial implementation is 46 percent faster than a standalone appliance-based solution. In addition, the vMCG provides incremental capacity additions in 87 percent less time, enabling operators to address the volatility of mobile control plane traffic driven by smartphones and smartphones apps."

Also on Thursday, Juniper announced the launch of its Junos Space Services Activation Director application, which enables service providers to provision thousands of services, including multiprotocol label switching and Carrier Ethernet for mobile backhaul.

The Services Activation Director, along with other Junos Space applications, will be available for purchase in the first half of 2013.

In addition, Juniper unveiled Thursday new security line cards for its SRX5600 and 5800 Series Services Gateways designed to improve performance, reliability and security for LTE mobile network operators. The SRX gateways collapse the security gateway, firewall, switching and routing layers on a single platform. The new line cards support up to 100 million concurrent sessions and up to 200 Gbps of firewall throughput with a single gateway, the company explained.

"The new SRX5600 and SRX5800 line cards deliver mobile operators the carrier-grade capabilities and performance scalability needed to secure LTE deployments," commented Jeff Wilson, principal analyst with Infonetics Research.

For more:
- see Juniper 's releases on vMCG, SRX line cards and SDN strategy
- check out IDC's SDN stats
- read the Network World article
- check out ACG Research's report

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