This November, Juniper announced plans to disaggregate its Junos switch OS from the new QFX5200 switches. The QFX5200 line will be the first from Juniper that lets customers choose to run Junos or a third-party network OS.
I was recently briefed by Juniper on these announcements, so I thought I’d share some notes from the discussion.
Juniper has plans to decouple Junos from the QFX5200 switch line. Customers will choose to go with Junos on the box, or load a different switch OS using ONIE, a boot loader for bare metal switches.
Conversely, customers can also license Junos and run it on a third-party switch.
However, Juniper hasn’t announced which switch OSs the QFX5200 line will support, nor which third-party hardware can run Junos. The company says integration work with undisclosed partners is underway, and it hopes to make an announcement soon.
Juniper didn’t have details on how it would license a standalone Junos software package; that information should become available once the integration with third-party hardware is complete.
By decoupling its hardware and software, Juniper aims to minimize the disruption posed by white box switches and a host of network operating software, including offerings from Cumulus Networks, Big Switch, and Pica8.
“There could be a white box with a configuration or price point that a customer likes; if we can run the OS, that’s beneficial to Juniper,” said Alan Huang, a senior product manager at Juniper.
At the same time, if a customer has a preferred network OS, Juniper can still compete to be the hardware switching platform.
Huang also noted that because the software and hardware are separate, Junos customers can upgrade equipment while keeping the Junos version the same; deploying new hardware won’t also force an OS refresh.
Juniper isn’t the first network vendor to embrace disaggregation; Dell’s ON switch line supports NOSs from Big Switch, Cumulus, IPInfusion, and Pluribus Networks. HPE has announced “brite box” partnerships with Accton and Cumulus, and this fall HPE unveiled OpenSwitch, an open source network OS.
The other news is the QFX5200, a new line of ToR/leaf switches that use Broadcom’s Tomahawk chip. The upshot of the Tomahawk is support for 25/50/100GbE. The cabling costs to go from 10GbE to 25GbE are cheaper than 10GbE to 40GbE, while still providing a significant performance boost. (For more about 25 vs. 40 GbE, check out posts here and here.)
The QFX5200 line includes a 32-port and 64-port option. Both models support 40GbE as well as 25/50/100GbE for those organizations where 40GbE makes sense.
The following chart from Juniper includes more details about each switch model: