Juniper Up Next with Cloud Switches

Juniper's data center announcement next week is expected to include switches based on new silicon that allows them to establish a flat fabric for cloud computing.

By Jim Duffy
Tue, February 15, 2011

Network World — Juniper's data center announcement next week is expected to include switches based on new silicon that allows them to establish a flat fabric for cloud computing.

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Sources say Juniper will unveil its Stratus line of data center and cloud switches on Feb. 23. Juniper announced its Stratus project two years ago as a flat, low-latency, lossless switching fabric for high-performance computing environments for enterprises and service providers.

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The Stratus line will include 10-Gigabit Ethernet top-of-rack and core switches, sources say, as well as Juniper's entry into 40 Gigabit Ethernet. Inter-switch links between the top-of-rack and core switches will be 40G Ethernet, they say.

The top-of-rack switches could ship this month, while the core switches are expected to ship late this year.

Juniper declined to comment for this story.

With Stratus, Juniper is looking to essentially deconstruct three-tier data center switching architectures into two, and eventually one. This is intended to increase performance and reduce operational time and cost by eliminating the need to deploy and manage additional products.

Sources say the Stratus switches will support a common control plane and a virtual data plane across Layer 2 switches. While physically dispersed, each switch port will function as if it is one virtual hop away from any other port.

The switches will also feature port-level virtual Layer 2/3 services that can migrate with workloads, sources say. This is similar to the virtual machine service profile mapping feature Cisco and Brocade already support, or announced support for, on their respective Nexus and VDX data center switches.

"If you think about Juniper's Virtual Chassis, I believe it extends these capabilities across a fabric," one source said. "The added benefit is L3 services, especially for security."

Virtual Chassis allows several fixed-configuration Juniper EX switches to be combined into a single logical switch for increased scale and density, and to reduce a three-tier switching architecture into two tiers. Juniper has disclosed plans to extend this capability across more EX switches and MX routers.

Virtual Chassis and new Juniper techniques in the Stratus switches to replace Spanning Tree in Ethernet data center networks will be offered as an alternative to the IETF TRILL specification. TRILL, or Transparent Interconnection of Lots of Links, is designed to overcome the slow topology reconvergence times associated with Spanning Tree by enabling shortest-path multihop routing for large-scale Ethernet and Fibre-Channel-over-Ethernet data center networks.

Juniper, however, is not a proponent of TRILL while Cisco and Brocade have both said that their shortest-path multihop techniques are both based on TRILL.

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