Software is important to networking, and Juniper is on it

As software-defined networking (SDN) startups such as Big Switch and Embrane make headway and headlines, Juniper (s jnpr) and other big network gear vendors have been responding with big visions and insider consortiums. In doing so, Juniper is looking to help companies bring ease and scalability to their networks just as compute and storage are becoming easier to control.

As companies get excited about transforming their on-premise infrastructure into private clouds, this is becoming more obvious, Bob Muglia, executive vice president of Juniper’s software solutions division, told GigaOM Research Analyst David Linthum at GigaOM’s Structure conference in San Francisco on Wednesday.

“They want to have the agility associated with what they can get from building a cloud, but the network is holding them back,” Muglia said. “And SDN is the solution to that.”

As Muglia sees it, SDN could enable developers keen on deploying a new application to spin up compute, storage and networking services in a matter of 15 minutes, instead of two days, using on-premise infrastructure.

But while Juniper is striving to look good in front of its customers and the general network community with its SDN doings, Muglia punctured the hype bubble around the networking protocol that kicked off the wave of interest in SDN in the first place. OpenFlow is nothing but a protocol, and Juniper already supports 270 of those. “This is the 271st,” Muglia said. Indeed, its forthcoming JunosV Contrail controller does not support OpenFlow, although it could be added later.

The controller is expected to become available in the second half of this year, under a new licensing model. Looking ahead three years, Muglia said he thinks Juniper will be even more of a software company. That’s well and good, but it doesn’t guarantee that Juniper customers will stick around and hold back on paying less for white-box gear.

Check out the rest of our Structure 2013 live coverage here, and a video embed of the session follows below:

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A transcription of the video follows on the next page