Juniper Networks gets Mist-y with new cloud SD-WAN service

One week after closing its $405 million deal to buy Mist Systems, Juniper Networks announced it was leveraging it in a cloud-delivered version of its SD-WAN service.

Juniper's new SD-WAN service was designed to give enterprises full visibility into their wired and wireless networks while also simplifying connectivity via the cloud with Amazon Web Services Direct Connect.

Juniper's new cloud-based SD-WAN service pulls together LAN, WAN and Wi-Fi across a range of topologies, including hub and spoke, partial mesh, dynamic full mesh, direct connect, and internet breakout.

"There's a whole bunch of topological options that we have," said Juniper's Mike Bushong, vice president of enterprise and cloud marketing.  "So, I think we wind up with the most scalable, but also the most logically diverse SD-WAN portfolio. Certainly no one's doing more than we are. I feel pretty confident saying that we've got the most flexibility."

Bushong said Juniper's approach was to simplify the consumption of applications and services in the cloud to not only speed up the time to market, but also increase agility. Bushong said Juniper's SD-WAN as a service was the first step towards moving software-defined networking into branch, campus and WAN locations.

"Juniper has not gotten a lot of traction for its SD-WAN solution, especially compared to the leading suppliers," said Lee Doyle, principal analyst at Doyle Research. "The announcement discusses the ability to run Contrail in the cloud – a feature that all the leading SD-WAN suppliers have already delivered. The interesting question is to what extent can Juniper leverage the Mist acquisition and its unique features to improve its SD-WAN market position."

RELATED: Juniper Networks buys wireless LAN vendor Mist for $405M

Juniper is using Mist's wireless local area network (WLAN) technology to extend visibility past gateways and into access points that are deployed in campus or branch locations. Juniper, which had previously worked with Mist, announced it was buying the company last month.

"We can extend the other side of the WAN links into the cloud so the cloud gateway devices can connect and control both sides of that," Bushong said. "While the industry discussion is primarily around SD-WAN, I would say SD-WAN is probably an entry point.  Certainly, the principles of management there—cloud-based, workflow-orientated, ideally AI-driven—should be extended to the enterprise. So, what you see here is us expanding the WAN gateway with Mist, including the switching elements and wireless elements, as part of a broader march to looking at the entire enterprise."

By simplifying the use of SD-WAN in the cloud, there's no installation required and enterprise customers, both large and small, can consume SD-WAN as a service. Enterprises that are using MPLS or broadband connections for data and applications can move them to the cloud.  

Other SD-WAN vendors also working with cloud partners. Last year, VMware/VeloCloud and Microsoft Azure announced an SD-WAN partnership, while Versa Networks announced it was partnering with Amazon Web Services to offer SD-WAN to AWS partners. Citrix and Riverbed have also announced availability of their SD-WAN offerings on Microsoft Azure and AWS.

"We have a richer set of topologies," Bushong said when asked how Juniper's cloud partnerships differed from other SD-WAN vendors' partnerships. "I think our topology support is fairly robust. I'm not positive, but I believe most of the SD-WAN vendors—I haven't checked all 62 vendors—are not offering hub and spoke, partial mesh, dynamic full mesh, direct connect and internet breakout."

Juniper's SD-WAN as a service supports variations of passive redundant hybrid WAN links, internet breakout at the WAN edge CPE or centralized WAN hubs, and the various topologies.

Customers also have more choices and control in managing their security, including added support for Zscaler and management of next gen firewalls of Juniper's SRX or NFV devices in the cloud. Juniper said that third-party testing by EANTC found that it scaled above 10,000 spoke sites.

Juniper's cloud SD-WAN service also enables customers to extend a secure SD-WAN to hubs and spokes in the cloud by adding a vSRX into a public cloud infrastructure-as-a-service. Additionally, Juniper’s open standards-based architecture and open APIs allow for seamless systems integration and NetOps workflow automation.

Prior to today's release of its cloud-based SD-WAN service, Juniper has previously launched an SD-WAN service based on its SRX platform and other virtual CPE versions based on its NSX platform. Juniper's announced customers for its previous versions of SD-WAN include Alaskan service provider GCI and Vodafone.

Similar to VMware with VeloCloud and Cisco with Viptela, Juniper is looking to integrate SD-WAN, cloud and SDN deeper into its portfolio for both enterprise and service provider customers.

On the SD-WAN front, Juniper got off to a slower start that most of its rivals, but Bushong said it was still early in the SD-WAN game, and that it's too soon to declare the winners and losers.

"From a marketing perspective, we may have been later than we actually were from a purchase-readiness or an adoption perspective," he said. "There's still a lot of a lot of game to be played in SD-WAN. That being said, I still I think SD-WAN is just one point, and we're talking about a broader operational transformation for enterprises at large. I think the winners in this game will be determined by who can offer value across an entire portfolio."