Juniper aims to wrap Cisco with QFabric datacentre management

Datacentre operators and cloud computing suppliers could slash their power and space requirements while running up to 10 times faster

Datacentre operators and cloud computing suppliers could slash their power and space requirements while running up to 10 times faster by using QFabric, its new flat datacentre architecture, Juniper Networks said on Wednesday.

The first fruits of Juniper's $100m, three-year Stratus R&D programme on datacentre operations, the firm claimed that for a 6000 X 10GigE port configuration, QFabric is up to 10 times faster, uses 77% less power, needs 27% fewer networking devices, occupies 90% less floor space, and cuts operating resources nine-fold compared to Cisco Nexus 7000 and Nexus 5000 series platforms.

QFabric's flat architecture also enables the industry's first integrated security solution that provides visibility, enforcement and scale across the entire physical and virtual datacenter fabric, the company said.

The launch received endorsements from the NYSE Euronext stock exchange, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and IBM, as well as NetApp, CA Technologies and VMware.

"With QFabric, Juniper is transforming datacenter economics by introducing the only network fabric that is able to eliminate multiple layers of cost and complexity," said Juniper Networks CEO Kevin Johnson.

QFabric consists of three components. The QF/Node acts as the distributed decision engine of the fabric; the QF/Interconnect is the high-speed transport device; and the QF/Director delivers a common window, controlling all devices as one.

Available for order today, the Juniper Networks QFX3500 is the first in the QFabric family and a stepping stone into the QFabric architecture. It can also run as a stand-alone 64port, 10Gbps Ethernet switch with FCoE (Fiber Channel over Ethernet) and Fiber Channel gateway functionality. The QFX3500 offers the fastest unicast and multicast performance in the industry, Juniper said.

Juniper will accept orders for QF/Interconnect and QF/Director from 3Q11.

Computer Weekly spoke to Anjan Venkatramini, vice-president of Juniper's fabric and switching group, about QFabric.

Is QFabric aimed at enterprises or telcos or both?

AV: Both. QFabric is a high end datacenter architecture that can scale up and down for mid- to high-enterprise and SP needs.

How would a company migrate to the new switch?

AV: The new QFX3500 can be implemented as a edge node to the datacentre architecture and connect to a core switch, so there is no need to rip and replace rather than add in the switch at the edge.

What equipment does in replace?

AV: QFabric replaces a traditional muti-tier DC network.

What comms standards does it support?

AV: Ethernet, FCoE and Fibre channel.

What management apps does it support?

AV: QFabric supports Junos Space and can easily plug into third-party management apps, eg from companies like VMware, CA and IBM through standard APIs.

What are its competitors?

AV: Cisco Fabricpath, but not in the same approach or implementation.

What evidence is there for the cost savings/efficiencies Juniper claims, and are these on a capex, opex or TCO basis?

AV: A comparison was done between QFabric and a Trill-based network architecture giving us these cost savings. We used all existing products currently available in the market. In fact, the following results come from the direct comparison of QFabric to Cisco's Nexus deploying Fabricpath and vPC for a 6000 port configuration:

Up to 10 times the speed (latency is 85% lower)

Consolidated management - one device to manage (one admin) vs 195 devices (nine admins)

  • Reduced interconnect cables needed - 1/7th
  • Fewer physical devices needed - 27%
  • Power and cooling - 77% lower
  • Admin costs - 1/9th
  • Green- 79% energy efficient [or] 1/5th the carbon emissions in pounds weight
  • Full Layer 3 support: Cisco Fabricpath can only handle up to 5% Layer three traffic.

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