The licensing strategy is also designed to allow customers to scale purchases based on actual usage. Juniper will announce specific software licensing packages throughout the year, and will transition its software business model by the end of 2015.
The licensing plan distinguishes Juniper's SDN strategy from Cisco's and its other competitors. None have articulated a revamped software licensing strategy based on adoption of SDN.
But IDC's Mehra says the entire industry will have to move to a software-based business model with the advent of SDN. And Nav Chander, another IDC analyst, says Juniper will have to sell the new enterprise-based licensing model to its service provider customers, which account for 65% of Juniper's revenue.
"This is going to be a big change for service providers," Chander says. "This licensing and pricing plan hasn't been socialized with that community yet."
Most of the way Juniper accounts for revenue is from hardware sales, he notes. The new licensing model may shift most of the revenue accountability to software.
Another challenge for Juniper's SDN plan is to release products in a timely manner, Mehra says. There was a long lag time between the introduction of Juniper's QFabric data center and cloud switches and shipment, which resulted in a slow ramp for the product line.
"They need to speed up products to market," he says. "Startups and incumbents are not waiting. They need to make the right moves and execute on this vision."
Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 25 years, 21 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy.
Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.