Happy Birthday to JUNOS

Ian Yates chats with Juniper's Cathy Gadecki as the tenth anniversary of JUNOS' release nears.

Junipers Network started out making routers for the top end of the network, up there in ISP-land. But pretty soon, their boxes started making their way down into ordinary data centres. Then they released their Locus J series switches and the Juniper kit started appearing right down in branch offices.

The secret behind the success, as is usual these days with network companies, is the software inside the hardware. They call it JUNOS and it's just about to celebrate its tenth birthday. We caught up with Juniper's Cathy Gadecki in San Francisco to find out how JUNOS wins converts.

Cathy Gadecki: One of the things about JUNOS is it's hit upon this idea that it was built right and we talk about it as being one OS, a single source data code, and developed right for each line and also having this one module of architecture, a win-win-win, if you will. But that's why it's different. So what does that mean for the customers?

Well the payoff is in high availability and in addition to the availability that's enabled by the architecture and the design, there's also quite a few innovative features in JUNOS that enterprise customers find quite interesting. Something that we call our commit model. We actually can set up a configuration offline and fully test it before committing it to your network. So it takes away a high cause of downtime, which is actually human error.

These systems are so complex, it's not unusual, especially you're running a NOC to have, you know, 15 minutes of uninterrupted time is quite a luxury. So having mechanisms in place that can catch when you're having a bad moment or a bad day is really something that is very attractive to enterprise.

So there's a lot of interesting features also built into the platform around availability. Another area where we really excel is efficiency in operations and then flexibility to roll out new services and to do upgrades and add infrastructure.

Ian Yates: That would be very, very important. I can just imagine that. That would be just pure luxury, to be able to pre-configure, pre-test and know it's going to work, rather than knowing that, when you turn it on, you're going to have to put up with some angry users while you tweak those last bits. That would be also worth the price of entry alone.

CG: Yes. Then when there - [there have been tool sets] can get leveraged at whenever there is a potential problem in the network. There are [tool sets] that automate diagnostic and trigger early detection of early indicator events. So that is that the severity, the number and the duration of problems is far lower with JUNOS.

In fact, we just completed a study through an outside independent firm called Lake Partners. They interviewed 122 customers and those customers reported back that, on average, JUNOS - with JUNOS, they saw 30 per cent fewer unplanned events.

When you look at those statistics of what network downtime can mean to a business and where from one per cent on average for a large medium business all the way up to 3.5 per cent on average per internet [export] for very large businesses, a year, being able to reduce unplanned events by 30 per cent, that's quite substantial.

IY: Yes. That translates into actual bottom line dollars, that kind of percentage.

CG: Yes, it does. So when people look at JUNOS, they recognise that it's a change and, of course, a change is something that requires a little bit of effort. But once they get their hands on the operating systems and they've...where someone comes and a bit begrudgingly, I must admit. But 30 minutes in, they're recognising that oh there might be something different here that I should know about. Four hours later, they're an advocate.

Because they see hey this really makes my job a lot easier, this single OS that I can own, implement, everything very consistently. This CLI that protects me and captures my mistakes and then these operation tool sets that help me by flagging events much more quickly and running automated diagnostics.

This is something that's going to make my life easier and they become an advocate. Once they deploy JUNOS [in their own] network.

IY: So therefore I should issue a warning. This is a bit like a drug. If you try it, you're going to like it and you will be hooked.

CG: Yes. We want everyone to try JUNOS. In fact, we have a crash course when you go to the Juniper website under training. If you take that course, it's about a two hour course. Then you can apply to get a voucher to sit for a testing, so that you can get your own certification, what we call the JNCIE.

Now you're all certified. It didn't take a lot of effort on your part. Hopefully it brings you a lot of benefits down the road, in having that little certification. So far, this program is about three months old and we've already had a 1700 engineers take advantage of this opportunity to learn JUNOS to see what it's all about.

IY: Yeah. That's not too bad, is it? A couple of hours of your time would certainly make you fairly well sure about what the product can do and what it can't do and what you might want and whether or not to proceed to evaluate the hardware.

CG: That's right. We always ask potential prospects about when they go out and they purchase a car, do they just look at one brand? When they purchase a server, do they look at just one brand? So certainly, I think, it pays in this case that we give it a try and see what it's all about and what all the fuss is, if you will.

IY: Okay. That's good advice. You should road test it. Now that you can do it without leaving your office, it's even easier to road test it.

CG: That's right. That's right.

IY: You don't have to plug it into your own network and wreck it while you figure out what to do either, which is a bonus.

CG: That's right. Certainly if you do want to get your hands dirty, there's lots of Juniper partners or a [serve] person close at hand that's going to let you do that.



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