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Juniper, Mirantis deal targets OpenStack SDN combo

Juniper and Mirantis are expanding their engineering partnership to deliver an OpenStack SDN combo to appeal to enterprises making the SDN move.

Juniper Networks' expanded engineering partnership with OpenStack vendor Mirantis could make the networking company's software-defined networking (SDN) technology more attractive to enterprises planning to adopt SDN over the next couple of years.

The companies announced last week that Mirantis' OpenStack distribution would interoperate with Juniper's Contrail, a software overlay for data center network virtualization. Mirantis technology would also work with OpenContrail, the open source version of Juniper's SDN technology.

"A lot of the network virtualization overlay vendors have tried aligning themselves with OpenStack because they see it as a path to gaining customers," said Shamus McGillicuddy, analyst for Enterprise Management Associates.

OpenStack is often used for creating and managing large groups of virtual private servers. The open source technology is expected to eventually let enterprises create Amazon-like cloud services in their data centers.

To do that, an OpenStack SDN combo is needed with a mature software overlay from companies like Juniper and VMware.

"OpenStack has the building blocks to enable a network virtualization overlay on its own with Open vSwitch as the hypervisor endpoint, but it's a very immature technology with limited features and functionality," McGillicuddy said.

Enterprises heading to SDN

Enterprises are expected to adopt SDN in significant numbers over the next couple of years. A survey of 153 medium and large U.S. businesses found 79% planning to have SDN technology in live production in the data center in 2017, according to Infonetics Research.

Competition among vendors is expected to intensify as enterprises shift to SDN.

"As SDN in the enterprise data center grows legs in 2015, thought leadership in this nascent market will give way to market share leaders with measurable revenue," Infonetics analyst Cliff Grossner said in a statement. "Now is the time for existing and new vendors to grab market share."

Mirantis also has an interoperability partnership with VMware, which sells the Contrail competitor NSX. That relationship won't change with the Juniper deal, Mirantis said.

"With this Juniper integration, Mirantis will support both VMware vCenter Server and VMware NSX and Juniper Networks Contrail networking," Nicholas Chase, senior manager of technical content marketing at Mirantis, said in a blog.

Service providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon use Mirantis' OpenStack distribution. Roughly 65% of Juniper's revenue comes from communication service providers with the remainder coming from enterprises.

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