Juniper Merges Contrail With Red Hat OpenStack


By: Michael Vizard

At the OpenStack Summit conference today, Juniper Networks (JNPR) announced it is integrating its Contrail open-source software-defined networking (SDN) platform with the Red Hat (RHAT) distributions of OpenStack cloud management platform and Ceph storage software. The new product will be called Contrail Cloud.

In addition, Juniper Networks revealed the automation framework the company gained when it acquired AppFormix late last year will be included as part of Contrail Cloud and that Juniper for the first time is also making available an instance of Contrail Cloud as a managed service.

Finally, Juniper Networks also announced it has begun pre-validating virtual network function (VNF) software for Contrail Cloud. The first two VNFs certified are a mobile content platform developed by Affirmed Networks and the vSRX firewall developed by Juniper Networks.

Tighter Red Hat alliance

The OpenStack alliance with Red Hat comes at a time when the OpenStack community is delivering a Pike release of the framework that among other things containerizes most of the services in OpenStack as part of an effort to allow organizations to build their own custom implementations. Based on Linux Containers, the Pike release of OpenStack makes it simpler for Juniper Networks to consume the OpenStack compute services that complement the Contrail SDN platform.

Pratik Roychowdhury, head of product Management for Contrail, says when it comes to advanced platforms such as OpenStack and Contrail there is a fundamental shortage of skills holding back adoption. The managed service from Juniper will allow organizations to become more agile, while at the same time putting in all the interoperability challenges associated with implementing various components of OpenStack and Contrail.

OpenStack questions linger

The big question for end users and Juniper investors will be: Is this enough? While OpenStack has gained favor with a large swath of the carrier community, delivering application and networks service based on OpenStack requires a lot of engineering investments. Because of these issues, commercial software vendors such as VMware and Cisco have been making a case for network function virtualization (NFV) frameworks that are simpler to deploy and manage. By providing a managed service, Roychowdhury says Juniper Networks is aiming to remove any of the complexity issues associated with relying on open-source software.

"We'll provide all the real-time monitoring and meet all the SLAs (service level agreements)," says Roychowdhury.

Juniper Networks is under pressure to shore up earnings after releasing financial results that many Wall Street analysts found disappointing. One way to turn those numbers around is to derive more revenue via managed services. It remains to be seen just how big an appetite there is for managed services based on an open-source stack. But the one thing that is for certain now is that the ultimate success of Contrail has never been more tightly coupled to an OpenStack platform that can be integrated with any of several rival SDN platforms.