Isolating that de facto open source controller standard seems to be a priority for the company because VMware and Cisco, with their leadership positions in server virtualization and data center switching, and major investments in programmable networking, will have significant market positions in SDNs . VMware just bought network virtualization startup Nicira for $1.26 billion, and Cisco funded startup and potential spin-in Insieme Networks with $100 million, and may acquire it for $750 million more.
"We're actually working kind of hard on it," Muglia says of the open source SDN controller effort. "It's sensible for Juniper because we want to be disruptive in this space."
Juniper recently laid out its SDN strategy, which includes adding OpenFlow support to specific products next year. The company considers SDN, which makes multi-vendor networks programmable through software, a significant growth opportunity for Juniper because it's coming from a small installed base of LAN and data center switching. Juniper has about a 3% share of the $20 billion Ethernet switch market, good for a No. 3 position behind Cisco and HP, but small enough to have "a lot of upside," Muglia says.
And the data center and campus networks are where Juniper sees the immediate short-term benefits of SDNs because the infrastructure is geographically concentrated. Programming a network is harder when the elements are geographically dispersed.
"When a disruptive thing comes in like SDN, there's a significant opportunity to change some of the dynamics of the market share," Muglia says. "So we see this as being very, very positive for us."
Yet, while working on a standard open source controller, Muglia also says Juniper will support whatever VMware does in SDNs due to its market influence and intrinsic technology.
"They're an important part of the data center hypervisor and orchestration market and in the cloud space," he says. "We will support what they do."
Support does not, however, imply fully embracing a technology or direction or strategy. Muglia did characterize the VMware/Nicira controller as proprietary; open source code is renowned for being just that: open and freely accessible.