On targeting the data center with SDNs, Juniper says that market lends itself to the centralized analytics and network provisioning facilitated by decoupled SDN control. Also, an SDN controller can optimally exploit the "massive amounts" of horizontally scalable general-purpose compute power employed by the IT industry, Sindhu said.
"SDN is a recognition by the networking industry that not all problems can be solved by putting the functionality inside these network nodes, which are generally geographically distributed," he said.
Juniper can also hurt itself least in the data center if SDN commoditizes hardware, as some expect, or if implementations fail to work as advertised. But Juniper is also intent on using SDN as a way to build market share.
"SDN is likely to emerge in the data center domain first, and Juniper has a very small share of that relative to other domains that we play in," said Bob Muglia, executive vice president of Juniper's Software Solutions Division, responding to a question on commoditization during the financial analyst meeting. "So we see this as an opportunity for us to take a pretty aggressive posture and use the expertise we have in software to help us gain share overall and an overall larger part -- larger percentage of the overall addressable market."
As for OpenFlow, which Juniper added to the Junos SDK last year, it's one way to facilitate interaction between the controller and the network nodes, but not the only way. OpenFlow has garnered much of the attention around SDNs, even catalyzing the hype surrounding it, but it's still an evolving technology and alternatives may be proposed during OpenFlow's evolution.
Indeed, Cisco sees OpenFlow's role contained to academia/research as a way to perform network "slicing," or partitioning. Academia/research is but one of the five markets -- enterprise, service provider, cloud service provider and data center being the others -- where Cisco is aiming its Cisco ONE programmable networking architecture.
"This interface ... between the controller and the network being controlled is intended to be an open standard interface," Sindhu said. "This piece is very, very important. OpenFlow is one possible proposal for this being the open standard interface ... an early proposal for the open protocol between the controller and the network."