Juniper multicloud management software targets enterprise data centers

Contrail Enterprise Multicloud builds on years of Juniper's work on software-defined networking

bikash koley juniper nxtwork 2017
Zeus Kerravala

Facing the reality that many enterprise data-center managers now work in a hybrid cloud environment, Juniper Networks is set to release Contrail Enterprise Multicloud, a software package designed to monitor and manage workloads and servers deployed across networking and cloud infrastructure from multiple vendors.

Enterprises are moving to the cloud for operational efficiency and cost optimization, but at the moment most big companies are operating hybrid environments, which has added to the complexity of managing computing infrastructure.

Juniper is competing with a variety of networking and multicloud orchestration tools from major data center players, including VMware's NSX, Cisco's ACI, and HPE's OneSphere. What's more, Juniper does not have as big a presence in the data center as some of its rivals, particularly Cisco.

Juniper unveiled Contrail Enterprise Multicloud at its NXTWORK event in December last year, and is now set to come out with the software in a staggered release schedule over the next five months.

The package as a whole is designed to give data center managers end-to-end policy and control capability for any workload across multi-vendor networking environments and server deployments in different cloud services, Juniper said. It's meant to act as a single point of management both for both software overlays -- software-defined network services -- and underlays, or in other words the traditional networking equipment infrastructure.

Managing policy across clouds

"From a single platform, enterprises can manage policy across multiple public clouds and private clouds," said Bikash Koley, Juniper CTO, in an email response to questions about the new product. "The integrated underlay capabilities mean enterprises can also manage their IP fabric, switches, routers and their bare-metal compute from the same platform," Koley said.

Juniper's journey to multivendor and multicloud management software began in earnest when it acquired Contrail Systems in late 2012, when it was on the hunt for software-defined networking technology. Since then, it's developed Contrail into a full-blown network management platform. It developed Contrail Cloud for telecom companies, and recently contributed the code for OpenContrail, the open source version of the software-defined networking (SDN) platform, to the Linux Foundation. (The software is now called TungstenFabric.)

On its part, Contrail Enterprise Multicloud offers real-time infrastructure performance monitoring for data center networking devices in addition to cloud infrastructure and application monitoring.

The software maps software-defined overlay services to cloud-specific environments. It uses IP routing across clouds to provide connectivity across application components, independently of which cloud execution environment they use, Juniper said.

contrail enterprise multicloud Juniper

The diagram shows foundational principles for Juniper's Contrail Enterprise Multicloud.

The physical data center fabric is programmed and controlled via networking, configuration and telemetry protocols.

For virtualized workloads in private clouds, the Contrail vRouter connects virtual machines and containers to virtual networks, according to a blog post by Jacopo Pianigiani, a Juniper product manager.

Contrail Enterprise Multicloud also provides for monitoring and management of public cloud tenants in public clouds including AWS and Azure through public cloud APIs.

"Customers can manage network policy for workloads running on bare metal servers, in virtual machines or in containers, and across both public and private cloud environments," Koley said. "Workflows—from provisioning to troubleshooting to maintenance—can be executed across a heterogeneous environment."

The software, however, is not meant to be a multi-vendor element management system that, for example, would allow network administrators to get down to the nitty-gritty of changing configuration settings on any network device from any given vendor.

"This isn’t about manipulating point configuration on devices but rather pushing intent-based workflows down into the supporting infrastructure," Koley said.

Contrail Enterprise Multicloud is licensed as a subscription based on the number of devices or nodes that are deployed. With the general availability of  Contrail Enterprise Multicloud, Juniper is also releasing a 5-step multicloud migration framework document as a guide for data center managers moving to the cloud (or multiple clouds) and offering related professional services. It's also offering bundles of QFX Series Switches with Contrail Enterprise Multicloud software; pricing depends on configuration of switches and deployed devices.

The release schedule calls for Contrail Enterprise Multicloud with fabric management capabilities for QFX series, along with a unified dashboard called Contrail Command, to be available by the end of June. Contrail Enterprise Multicloud software for managing public clouds as a fabric connecting workloads across private and public clouds is slated to be released in the third quarter.

This story, "Juniper multicloud management software targets enterprise data centers" was originally published by Network World.

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