Juniper Moves Its SD-WAN Into the Cloud

The vendor’s strategy is part of a larger industry trend to expand SD-WAN beyond the WAN to encompass other areas, such as the LAN and the branch.

Juniper Networks

Juniper Networks is putting its software-defined WAN solution into the public cloud to make it easier for enterprises to embrace and deploy the technology.

Putting its Contrail Service Orchestration platform into the cloud is part of a larger trend in the industry of expanding the management features of SD-WAN beyond the WAN and into areas like the LAN, WiFi network and branch. This evolution was a key part of Aruba Networks’ messaging during its Atmosphere 2019 user conference earlier this month as officials touted the company’s relatively new SD-Branch offering.

In a way, SD-WAN is becoming more of a feature of larger solutions than a single solution of its own. In pitching the move to put the company’s Contrail SD-WAN technology into the cloud, Juniper officials noted that enterprises can now more easily manage and secure the WAN, LAN and WiFi networks.

“The principles of SD-WAN seem so much more broad than just the WAN,” Michael Bushong, vice president of enterprise and cloud marketing at Juniper, told eWEEK. “At some point, SD-WAN becomes something of a use case that’s part of a bigger movement. That will have impact on the market because if you’re a company that effectively staked your future on SD-WAN and SD-WAN becomes bigger than just that WAN gateway, then that means you’ve got to have the breadth of your portfolio to extend that value to other parts of the enterprise. It brings more of the portfolio to bear.”

The SD-WAN space in recent years has been among the fastest growing in the larger networking market, offering a complement to the expensive and relatively inflexible multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) transport mode by adding broadband, WiFi and other avenues to move data and applications to and from the branch, cloud and edge. It’s also a recognition that applications and data often come from multiple sources outside of the data center, such as the cloud and the internet of things (IoT).

IDC is forecasting the SD-WAN market to grow from $1.3 billion last year to $4.5 billion by 2022, according to Senior Analyst Brandon Butler.

Such growth potential has given rise to broad vendor environment that includes established players and pureplay startups alike, as well as a consolidation trend that has seen Cisco Systems buy Viptela, VMware acquire VeloCloud and Oracle purchase Talari Networks. Bushong said a broad technology portfolio will be important in the rapidly changing networking space, and pointed to Juniper’s reach in everything from the data center, campus and branch to wireless, hardware, software and the public cloud.

“If we can take the principles of SD-WAN and extend it across the whole of that portfolio, that’s difference making and there aren’t that many companies that can do that,” he said.

Fueling the evolution of SD-WAN are the emerging desire to move highly diverse workloads around more easily, from the cloud to the distributed edge to the campus and branch, and to simplify operations, Bushong said.

Juniper got into software-defined networking (SDN) when it bought Contrail Systems in 2012, and has since expanded the role of the technology, including into the SD-WAN space. The move to the cloud is the latest step in the evolution. Along with being delivered via the cloud, there are a number of new capabilities, including greater flexibility for SD-WANs, a way to centrally manage branch LAN and WAN by connecting Juniper’s EX Series Ethernet switches to a single or dual WAN gateway of NFX or SRX Series devices and a greater choice in managed security, including integration with cloud security vendor ZScaler.

It also enables enterprises to add a vSRX to a public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) environment to easily extend SD-WAN into the cloud. In addition, Contrail SD-WAN can scale to more than 10,000 spokes sites and it’s multitenant, driving scalability.

“If we can simplify deployment, if we can simplify management, we can increase adoption,” Bushong said.

The cloud-based Contrail Service Orchestration also includes the first integration of technology from Mist Systems, a company that Juniper bought this year. The deal closed April 1.

Bringing Mist into the fold filled a wireless hole in Juniper’s portfolio, Bushong said, but a key to the deal was Mist’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Mist had expertise in cloud-managed wireless networks that were powered by AI. Juniper officials said the plan was to combine Mist’s wireless LAN (WLAN) platform with Juniper’s LAN, SD-WAN and security offerings.

The Mist technology in Contrail Service Orchestration enables customers to extend their visibility into their networks from the WAN to the access points to better monitor the health of the network. Including Mist’s AI technology in the cloud service was the first small step in a much larger strategy, he said.

“If we take that AI engine and extend it to the campus and branch, we can start to leverage the same engine for broader value beyond just the wireless side,” Bushong said.