NXTWORK 2017 – Juniper’s strategy for simplifying multicloud migration

Last week I attended NXTWORK 2017, Juniper Networks’ customer event in San Francisco, where the agenda included keynote presentations by CEO Rami Rahim, new CTO Bikash Koley (most recently at Google) and other Juniper executives. One key takeaway is the focus on helping enterprise and service provider customers overcome the increased complexity of delivering applications and services in hybrid multicloud environments spanning the enterprise, service provider and hyperscaler domains.

Juniper’s vision for simplicity is a “self-driving network” that integrates multiple technologies in order to streamline network operations using intent-driven automation mechanisms that leverage real-time visibility and analytics across multiple layers and domains. The week before the event, Juniper announced its bot-based approach to automation, in which network operation tasks are performed by intelligent software-based bots that execute typical human workflows. The goal is to develop a library of bots which can also work cooperatively under the supervision of a master bot to carry out more complex workflows. Bot-based automation mimics the way things work in a NOC, with multiple people focused on different operational tasks but communicating with each other to share information when required. The approach is similar to NASA’s mission control center, where the flight director oversees a number of specialists who are each responsible for specific aspects of flight operations, working independently yet also cooperating when needed.

SVP Kevin Hutchins’ security keynote focused on the complex set of challenges enterprises face as applications move to the cloud and the traditional security perimeter shifts to encompass a greatly expanded attack surface. Many enterprises lack both the necessary tools and highly skilled personnel required to properly secure networks and application infrastructure in these new multicloud environments.

Juniper’s cybersecurity strategy is based on these principles:

  • Pervasive &  dynamic security policies across all domains and layers
  • Automated & simplified security to streamline workflows
  • Adaptive & open security driven by visibility, analytics and AI

In Juniper’s model for software-defined secure networks, multi-layer visibility and machine learning techniques are used to collect and analyze data to identify possible threats. Threat intelligence is then used to prevent threats by directing an intent-based, security policy director which in turn sets specific enforcement policies that will be implemented in network elements, multicloud infrastructure components and end points. Juniper’s security product portfolio is evolving to fully realize this vision and several new capabilities were announced at the event, most notably the recently acquired Cyphort product as Juniper’s on-premise advanced threat detection platform, complementing Juniper’s existing SkyATP cloud-based platform.

With Contrail Networking, Contrail Cloud Platform, Contrail Enterprise Multicloud and Contrail Security, Juniper is making an aggressive push to be a leading supplier of networking solutions to simplify the complex process of migrating from today’s legacy networks to hybrid multicloud environments. The company has the core technology and technical expertise to do this, and the recent acquisitions of AppFormix and Cyphort indicate that Juniper is willing to go outside the company when necessary. With a clear vision in place, success hinges on execution and possibly additional acquisitions, particularly in the area of multicloud security, which Juniper acknowledges is still a work in progress.


Automation-centric monitoring for cloud-scale infrastructure

I just published an ACG Research market impact report on the Juniper Networks’ AppFormix monitoring and automation solution for intent-driven cloud-scale infrastructure. The report examines the ramifications for data center operators of the highly dynamic, cloud-scale application deployment environments I described in the “3 D’s” of hybrid and multi-cloud application deployment.

Data center operators have access to a wealth of tools for application, infrastructure and network monitoring, provided by numerous vendors and open source initiatives. Yet the current generation of tools fall short in helping operators overcome the challenges of managing cloud-scale application deployment, which is characterized by massive scale, software-driven complexity and highly dynamic run-time environments in which workloads and resources fluctuate constantly. These operators need real-time, full stack monitoring that spans the entire environment:

They also need tools that can remove time-consuming manual workflows from the remedial action feedback loop. Infrastructure monitoring and analytics should feed actionable insights directly to the orchestration layer to automate the process of taking action in response to anomalies or changing conditions by reallocating resources or redistributing workloads. In other words, infrastructure monitoring needs to move from operator-centric to automation-centric.

Collecting and analyzing full stack monitoring data in real time is a Big Data problem, but Juniper Networks’ AppFormix takes an innovative approach to solving this problem that utilizes the distributed computing resources inherent in cloud-scale infrastructure to perform local machine learning on the metrics extracted from each node, significantly reducing the flow of data streamed to the central analytics engine and database.

Providers of infrastructure monitoring solution are busy incorporating machine learning and Big Data analytics into their products. However, in addition to its unique approach to Big Data analytics, what differentiates the Juniper Networks’ AppFormix solution is the integration of analytics-driven, policy-based control that continuously monitors key metrics against pre-defined SLAs and automatically triggers the orchestration layer to make the adjustments necessary to assure the operator’s business objectives.  The net result is automation-centric monitoring for intent-driven cloud-scale infrastructure.

For more information, watch the ACG Research Hot Seat video with Sumeet Singh, AppFormix founder and VP engineering, Juniper Networks.