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New Juniper "virtualized" dynamic services gateways emphasize flexibility

New Juniper SRX dynamic services gateways allow carriers to use capacity virtually for flexible services and network capability, giving operators a software-enabled way to offer different combinations of services to different customers.

Juniper Networks has rolled out new "dynamic services gateways" with its SRX series, designed to speed the deployment of integrated applications and services by taking a page from the virtualization book. The SRX Dynamic Services Gateway line extends Juniper's NetScreen acquisition (2004) in a high-end way to help telecom carriers add new services on the network while providing multiple security functions, all on a single operating system.

Most routers and switches can add line cards for different functions, but Juniper's are more flexible and could decrease the number of boxes service providers need to deploy because they can scale integrated services and network capabilities on a single architecture. 

"Juniper has a network platform that's a host for a series of cards, and the cards are software-missioned, so what they do depends on the software you load on them," said Tom Nolle, president, CIMI Corp. "Basically, it's kind of virtual. Juniper has created a crossover device that is in some ways like a service delivery platform (SDP), in that you can run software-configurable applications on it. But the device is also tightly coupled with the network data path, so you can make it do things that are essentially data plane behaviors, like routing and firewall functions."

The SRX series runs on Juniper's JUNOS network operating system, but what separates Juniper from its competitors is that the SRX line cards are all the same and take their orders from software. Each card can handle a variety of services depending on the customer's needs, including routing, network address translation, firewall functions and intrusion prevention. Cisco's 7600 router series, by comparison, has a variety of line cards that can make it a router or a services box, but the cards have only one function.

Juniper made a similar move earlier this year when it introduced its JCS 1200 core platform series that essentially couples to the Juniper routers and allows customers to host the control plane outside of the router. Now there's Juniper's SRX that sits above the network and is used for service management functions, Nolle said.

With Juniper's recent executive changes -- new CEO Kevin Johnson from Microsoft, for example -- analysts are watching the company to see what it will do on the software side, as opposed to hardware. Juniper's announcement is also timely, in that Cisco is expected to brief Wall Street analysts this week on a variety of issues, including its software strategy.

"My argument is that Juniper has built a device that's a transition, one that a network equipment vendor can field credibly because it fits a variety of missions that are currently network missions. But if you look at the way the SRX series operates, it's a stepping stone into working with higher layers above the network layer," Nolle said.

The SRX 5600 and 5800 dynamic services gateways are designed for service provider and large enterprise use. The SRX 5600 supports more than 120 Gbps of firewall and up to 30 Gbps of IPS, as well as 350,000 connections per second. It comes with six free line card slots. The SRX 5800 can be configured to support more than 400 Gbps interfaces with a choice of Gigabit Ethernet or 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports and has 12 free line card slots. The gateways are available immediately, with the base price of the SRX 5600 chassis starting at $65,000 and the SRX 5800 at $68,000.

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