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Juniper makes new switch based on OpenCompute hardware

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December 9, 2014

So-called 'white box' switches are generally identified to be a form of a threat to traditional network vendors, because server-based network appliances can't attract the same premium prices as dedicated networking devices.

But now Juniper appears to be taking the next step, simply because the struggling manufacturer has announced a switch based on OpenCompute hardware.

To be sure, the OCX-1100 is due to arrive in 2015's first quarter and is dubbed as an “open, cost-effective, disaggregated switching platform”.

The new switch will run Junos OS so it should behave like any other Juniper device. Juniper's logic is that network operators of exceptionally large data centres are keen on the concept of white box switches but aren't happy with the prospect of building them from the ground up as hyperscale operators have done.

Building a Juniper appliance on OCF hardware, basically servers tuned to the needs of specific workloads, is seen as a nice half-way house-- not an expensive like proprietary network hardware but not an exotic new thing to integrate into a data centre.

Juniper is also making much of the fact that Junos OS is a known quantity among carriers and other large-scale ISPs and operators.

Other white box switches and alternatives like Dell switches will struggle to make competing and similar claims.

The device Juniper plans to use will be an OCF-approved design designed and built by Alpha Networks.

Juniper's secured quotes from the likes of VMware and IDC saying how clever it is to pursue this path. Analyst Forrester, however, has named Juniper as a vendor it thinks might be unhelpfully distracted by white box networking.

There's not enough detail on offer about the OCX-1100 to assess whether it will be attractive to its target market or help Juniper's bottom line.

The company is getting more and more into the software-defined business. Whether that counts for something is very much to be observed in the coming year. We'll keep you posted.

Source: Juniper Networks.

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