Juniper thinks the future of network automation is in the cloud

Juniper Networks scored a deal last month when German operator Tele Columbus announced it would use the vendor’s Cloud Metro portfolio of routers and software alongside NEC’s xHaul products to build a converged interconnect network. Brendan Gibbs, Juniper’s senior vice president of automated WAN solutions, told Silverlinings the deal speaks to trends it is seeing around network automation and open architectures.

Tele Columbus passes around 3 million locations in Germany with fiber, and offers a combination of broadband, telephony and video services to consumers and businesses. Through its work with Juniper and NEC, the operator is looking to shift to a single infrastructure through which it can serve both residential and enterprise customers.

Work is already underway, and an initial tranche of subscribers is expected to be connected using Juniper’s Cloud Metro technology in the first half of this year, according to the vendor.

Juniper, of course, is well known in the telecom arena for its routing technology, having recently teamed with the likes of Verizon to expand the operator’s transport capacity. But it has also long had its head in the cloud, leveraging such infrastructure for its secure access services edge (SASE) and Mist IoT Assurance products. It was only last year, though, that the vendor pushed its Paragon Automation capabilities to the cloud as well, adding them to its Cloud Metro portfolio.

Automation opportunity

Gibbs said there is good reason for that. “We believe the future of automation is in the cloud – because it just makes sense, from both a business and technical perspective,” he said. “There’s a reason most of the world’s software has moved to a cloud-delivered SaaS model.”

According to Gibbs, the cloud makes it significantly faster and easier to get automation up and running. Rather than worrying about hardware and software installation overhead or trying to apply DIY automation over the course of several months or even years, cloud-based automation can be activated within minutes. Plus, pricing is based on usage.

Open programmability counts

Openness is another key tenant of Juniper’s Cloud Metro portfolio. “Open programmability gives operators like Tele Columbus the ability to easily integrate with third party technologies,” Gibbs said. “And this means operators would have a lot more flexibility to take advantage of the best-of-breed innovations in a multi-vendor ecosystem.”

It also provides flexibility for operators to deploy in either existing brownfield environments or start fresh with greenfield infrastructure. “When building out a new greenfield deployment, they can build a metro that looks and acts like a cloud scale-out environment,” he explained. “Meanwhile, they can scale up capacity and intelligence in existing ring topologies, with both architectures coexisting in the same network. Network operators can also gradually migrate traffic, while improving resiliency and agility as they go.”

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