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Junosphere Lab: Juniper's cloud-based lab for enterprise customers

Juniper Networks today introduced a new version of its cloud-based network engineering lab, Junosphere. The new version, Junosphere Lab, gives enterprises and services providers cloud-based access to images of Junos, the firmware that runs on the company’s routers and switches. The service allows network teams to model, design and test networks virtually before deploying a physical one. It will also allow engineers to learn and test the features of a Junos device virtually before buying or installing a physical device.

This is the second Junosphere service offered by Juniper. Last May the company introduced Junosphere Classroom, a service designed for university network engineering classes and Juniper certification training partners. At the time of the Junosphere Classroom release, some networking pros complained that the service wasn’t tailored to the needs of engineers and enterprise networking teams who need to learn the features of Junos and design and test Juniper networks without building a physical Juniper-based network lab.

Junosphere Lab, which features some front-end, user interface changes tailored to enterprise and service provider customers, should address some of the complaints that enterprise engineers had about the original Junosphere offering. Juniper has also partnered with some other vendors to provide virtual instances of network design and testing technologies in the Junosphere cloud. Those partnerships include testing hardware vendor Spirent, network planning and design software vendor WANDL (Wide Area Network Design Laboratory), IP/MPLS planning and traffic engineer software vendor Cariden Technologies and NetFlow and route monitoring and analysis vendor Packet Design.

If an enterprise has an in-house network lab, the network team can connect that lab to Junosphere Lab to expand the scale of the company’s internal lab capabilities and allow them to emulate how their production network might function with Junos versus an incumbent vendor.

The service is priced for an enterprise or service providers budget. Juniper offers access the cloud-based lab at $5 per Junos instance per day. A network engineer could design and test a virtual Juniper network with 20 nodes for $100 a day, for instance.

For the motivated network engineer who is seeking an opportunity for independent self-study, the home network lab might remain the best option. Junosphere is not intended for self-study, according to Judy Beningson, Juniper’s vice president and general manager for Junosphere and related products and services. She said the original Junosphere Classroom remains the best option from Juniper.