Why is SDN so important to the networking industry?
It's really all about flexibility or agility in the network - how fast service providers can translate the resource into revenue. So how quickly can a cloud service provider turn up a service and provide it to their customers and do it in a very customised and unique way?
Networks have traditionally been a very brittle resource, meaning it can take months and a lot of manual provisioning to make a connection to a customer. With SDN you can literally hand that full process over to the customer themselves. They can go to a website, put in basic information and that will automatically turn up over the service provider's network and do it in a matter of minutes. So it's turning this resource, the network, into something useful for their customer.
How do you think SDN will change the networking industry?
It's going to change in a lot of ways. IT is becoming more and more relevant in people's everyday lives. You look at what Facebook and Twitter are doing and you look at these types of services as consumer network services and how they have bought the value of the network into parts of people's lives where it hadn't existed before. It used to just be something you did at work, but more and more people and spending more time on their tablets, smartphones and PCs on services like Facebook. For a consumer, SDN takes these different types of consumer networks and capabilities and makes them available and relevant and make them available cheaply and on a daily basis.
On an enterprise level, it allows service providers to provide ERP systems, like SPA provides to customers as a cloud system in a cheap, but secure way and turn it out very quickly for customers to use. It's really about the flexibilities.
What business benefits does SDN have to offer?
Business benefit comes down to two levels - if you are an enterprise customer that is using SDN etch in your data centre, business benefit is how quickly you can translate company's resources into revenue. SDN does that by taking all the big data you are getting from marketing intelligence, your supply chain and customers and allows you to quickly make decisions and translate that into business value in terms of the types of product you need to focus on. SDN allows you to flexibly transfer those IT points into decisions on how to run your business. So it is impactful for all types of business, not just IT.
For service providers, it allows them to make a network that is much more operationally efficient, in terms of operational cost as well as capital cost and allows them to turn out these services and provide them to customers, like video on demand or security services. It allows service providers to turn them on much more quickly and efficiently and allows them to have a much more flexible and agile network.
How is Juniper working with customers to implement SDN?
Juniper comes to play in a couple of different key ways. Number one: we are still one of the leading providers of physical network equipment that goes into the network today, so whether it be the big routers in data centres or the security firewalls that control the traffic going through the system, Juniper supplies all of those.
The other key way is more and more in the software is defining what SDN does on a technical level. It virtualizes the networks, which means it turns all of the physical elements into a software model, which is a representation of the network in software. This allows you to much more easily programme all of the elements and allows you to turn the services inside physical devices into apps inside an app store.
So you can take these elements and treat them like apps in an app store and start to string them together, in what we call service chains, but essentially bundle them up to enterprise customers.
If you look at what's happened in the consumer space with things such as tablets and smartphones and the way PC models are moving towards an app store, even companies like SAP are doing with HANA and what they are doing with apps for the enterprise: the same types of models are being used. The whole concept of virtualization and creating these service apps on top is such a flexible way of creating new and specific value for customers and I rally do believe it's the way of the future. It's a monolithic; one-size-fits-all approach to building out networks and the technology: the way networks were made in the past won't survive going forward.
Are traditional off the shelf packages soon going to become obsolete?
I think that how network providers build networks and provide services to their customers' changes significantly, and that's why there's so much hype around SDN. The technology is very revolutionary. It doesn't mean that the physical equipment that passes around on the network goes away, but how you package up these services and create value on the network really does change. So, yes, these traditional ways to build a network may well become obsolete over time.
When operating on SDN, security is a big issue for many customers so what security does Juniper have in place?
The first killer app for the SDN future is virtualized security app or the firewall. That's the first big application service we're running across our virtualized network, Firefly - the virtual version of our security product.
What doesn't go away is the critical nature of securing data, managing that data effectively across the network and having these security apps and the ability to securely pass data through this network becomes imperative, or else this model doesn't work.
Juniper, based on our traditions of being a security company and not just a networking company, has really thought about how to put the security apps together. We also have other apps like Wed App Secure, which secures websites, with have DoS Secure, which is a virtual app for identifying Denial of Service attacks, so we have a whole suite of different security apps that will run on this virtualized network that we are putting out into the marketplace.