TL; DR: Juniper Networks has spent more than 20 years tackling complex industry challenges to enable customers to build the best networks for their businesses. From its first router to today’s advancements in multicloud solutions, the company approaches its products and services with a commitment to simplicity. Moving forward, Juniper will continue to solidify its reputation for enabling digital transformation in an innovative and open-minded way.
Leaders across the world may be throwing buzzwords around meeting rooms like confetti, but there’s one, in particular, that should never be swept under the rug: digital transformation.
To compete and thrive in the future, businesses must take full advantage of the opportunities provided by emerging technology. Over the next decade, those who fail to do so will be left in the dust.
Still, the prospect of overhauling familiar, time-tested processes to meet rapidly evolving consumer demands in the digital age can be overwhelming, to say the least.
Enter Juniper Networks, an end-to-end tech company that believes simplicity through engineering is the highest form of innovation. The company’s overarching goal is to build robust networks capable of taking on the most difficult challenges of service providers, enterprises, government agencies, and higher education organizations worldwide.
“It’s tough for companies that are going through this transformation, so simplicity is key,” said Scott Sneddon, Senior Director and Evangelist for Cloud Solutions at Juniper. “There’s a big return on investment at play in terms of being able to do more with automation while boosting agility, speed, and time to market.”
Juniper leverages more than two decades of experience to deliver an extensive portfolio of products, solutions, and services — from routing, switching, and security to multicloud solutions designed to streamline and evolve operations. Moving forward, emerging technologies will continue to present new opportunities for Juniper Network customers — and the company will be there to guide them through the change in an innovative and open-minded way.
Two Decades’ Experience Solving Complex Networking Problems
Headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, Juniper has been a leading player in the tech space since 1996, when the company introduced its revolutionary M40 router.
“In the mid-90s, the tech landscape included one incumbent network vendor trying to be all things to all people,” Scott said. “IP protocol was taking off, but this vendor was still heavily invested in legacy network protocols. Juniper made a big bet early on that a purpose-built IP platform would be useful to the market.”
The bet paid off — with a high volume of early sales going to telecom and backbone service providers building large-scale IP networks. The innovations continued, and by 1998, the company developed an unveiled Junos OS, a single operating system that is now used across the entire Juniper product line to streamline its offerings.
“From day one, we were purpose-built, and from day one, we were automated,” Scott said. “Instead of designing something proprietary that would only be appropriate for a given box, we chose a lot of open source and off-the-shelf tools under a FreeBSD license.”
Scott said that as the operating system was designed so that network engineers could interact with it via a command-line interface (CLI), but also so that operators could automate their platforms as they scale. “The entire CLI is built around this structure, modeled language that lent itself to automation,” he said.
By 2004, the company had grown enough to acquire NetScreen Technologies, a provider of network security and access products.
“That gave us a route into the firewall and enterprise spaces, and in the mid-2000s, we expanded the portfolio beyond routing and firewalls into the switching arena,” Scott said. “But along the way, at our core, we’ve always been purpose-built and focused on automation and simplicity of operations.”
Enabling Digital Transformation with a Multicloud Solution Set
Over the years, Juniper evolved into a $4.6 billion company with nearly 10,000 employees and 117 offices in 47 countries.
Today, Scott said the company continues to focus on automation and simplicity when driving digital transformation. Now, its strategy includes helping customers gain agility across their cloud infrastructure as they adopt more cloud services in various shapes and forms.
“I simply define multicloud is N plus one,” he said. “If I’m operating a compute platform or an application environment that has more than one requirement of operations, more than one networking model, or more than one security interface, I have a multicloud challenge. Or, if I’m still running Solaris on SPARC servers supporting an Oracle app, and I’ve got some VMware on my private cloud, that’s a multicloud problem.”
Each of those tools and platforms have different requirements in terms of securing, networking, and operating applications. Add in technologies like microservices, and Scott says the problem grows exponentially.
That’s where the company’s multicloud solutions come in. The company’s 5-Step Multicloud Migration Framework makes migration a breeze. Then, Juniper’s Contrail Enterprise Multicloud platform comes in, empowering customers to manage applications hosted both on and off-premises — and in multiple clouds — as if they were in one unified cloud environment.
Scott said this helps ensure end-to-end visibility and security across private and public cloud services. He said it’s not just automation, but automation with a focus on the DevOps workflow.
“What we’re trying to do is kind of twofold: One, solve the complexity of that multicloud environment by providing some consistent tools that allow a network and security operator to operate those environments seamlessly and cohesively,” he said. “Secondly, give the security and network teams a language so that they can become closer to the DevOps process.”
Providing Education on Network Reliability Engineering
In addition to streamlining multicloud environments, Scott said Juniper has been focused on the movement around site reliability engineering (SRE), a term coined by Google to describe the application of software engineering practices and automation to infrastructure and operations.
A network reliability engineer (NRE) combines the role of a software engineer engaged in building, testing, deploying, and operating with that of DevOps. To help educate the industry on NRE best practices, Juniper recently unveiled NRE Labs, a free, unbranded community website that aims to help people of all backgrounds build their automation skills.
“It’s a set of free, community-sourced lessons without any registration requirements or paywall,” Scott said. “The idea is to provide a platform for network and security people to learn the process of SRE and how it applies to their domain.”
The site was developed using an open-source project known as Antidote, available under an Apache v2 license, to ensure industry wide participation. Users do not have to install anything or possess any advanced knowledge to get started with the course content, which demystifies tasks such as troubleshooting and verification using automation.
“The ultimate goal is to drive a little bit of community awareness and education around concepts that will help move the transformation journey forward,” Scott said.
A Continued Focus on Openness
Since the beginning of Juniper’s history, Scott said that the company has embraced a philosophy of openness.
“We came to this market where the incumbent player was going down the path of trying to offer everything but doing it in a relatively closed way,” he said. “So we came to this marketplace, um, with the approach of openness in that we interoperate with other vendors — we can’t expect that everybody is going to be building their infrastructure from scratch.”
To that end, Scott said Juniper is focused on open protocols, open-source, and open standards in terms of IATF certification, etc.
“The Contrail toolset is our distribution of an open-source project called Tungsten Fabric, and we continue to develop and contribute to that project,” he said. “We’re also excited about expanded support and participation in other open-source arenas like the Kubernetes ecosystem.”
Finally, the company will enhance user experiences by leveraging the resources it gained through the March acquisition of Mist Systems, a pioneer in cloud-managed wireless powered by artificial intelligence.
“We are already using the Mist management system to manage some campus switching connected to wifi access points,” he said. “You’re going to see more and more of that AI-driven approach of automation and orchestration into more Juniper products through 2020.”