Contributed Article

by Brendan Gibbs, Senior Vice President, Automated WAN Solutions at Juniper Networks

Juniper Networks announced its expanded Cloud Metro solutions portfolio in July 2022, optimized for enabling sustainable business growth. The Juniper Cloud Metro solutions address profits, people and the planet holistically, and are underpinned by improved service experience. This announcement was the natural evolution of the Cloud Metro vision we introduced  April 2021. Juniper has entered this market with purpose, following significant innovation and investments over the past several years to create an entirely new category of metro solutions for an experience-driven, cloud-connected world, giving service providers an “easy button” to bring the Cloud Metro vision to reality.

Cloud Metro: A New Product Category for Sustainable Business Growth

Metro has become the “new edge” and has huge growth potential. The metro is where 5G, edge cloud hosting, connectivity and service experience converge. But can the traditional “retro metro” sustain business growth for the long term?

Metro traffic bandwidth is estimated to grow more than 500% from 2021 to 2027, but most teams’ budgets will remain flat, which means the current cost per bit is not sustainable and new network economics are paramount to scale productively. User expectations have increased and security threats continue to expand. Eighty-six percent of telecom executives named skilled staff shortage as the primary industry challenge. In addition, a new ITU standard now requires operators to reduce greenhouse emissions by 45 percent by 2030. We believe a new approach is needed to effectively tackle these challenges and enable sustainable business growth holistically. At Juniper, we call this approach “Cloud Metro”.

But arguably, the biggest change needed for Cloud Metro is a revolutionary approach for managing such networks and services. It’s often said that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Service providers who rearchitect their networks to accommodate this massive growth in new capacity, new traffic patterns and new sustainability requirements, yet don’t rearchitect their operations, will be unable to truly unlock the full benefits of this shift. A Cloud Metro network is fundamentally an experience-first network, focused on providing a high-quality service experience for customers instead of mere packet transport as in the past, with automated and AI-aware operations at the forefront of this new approach.

Cloud Metro is about applying cloud principles to architecting, building and operating metro networks. It’s a new solution category because the attributes for its operations, systems and architecture are fundamentally different than the traditional retro metro, as indicated in Table 1 below. Take cars, for example. While both electric vehicles and gasoline vehicles are “vehicles”, they’re in different vehicle categories to each other. Similarly, that’s what we’ve done with Juniper Cloud Metro.

Juniper’s Expanded Cloud Metro Solutions

Together, the expanded portfolio and enhanced capabilities create a new model for metro network operations, systems and architecture, all aligned with a single purpose – to enable sustainable business growth. Our newly expanded Cloud Metro solution combines:

  • Sustainable Operations with AI-enabled, cloud-delivered Automation as a Service
  • Sustainable Systems that deliver port density and flexibility with speeds to 400G, while reducing carbon footprint and e-waste
  • Sustainable Architecture with a scalable IP services fabric that features embedded active service assurance and integrated Zero Trust security

Reimagining Metro Operations

In 2021, Juniper introduced Juniper Paragon™ Automation—a portfolio of cloud-native, experience-driven software applications to automate the full lifecycle of the network and services. Now, we’re making it even easier for service providers to consume, providing:

  • AI-Enabled Automation as a Service: Most automation tools function as standalone solutions, requiring complex specialized software and dedicated on-premises infrastructures. Today, we’re introducing Paragon Automation as a cloud-delivered service. Teams can instantly simplify and accelerate service delivery by consuming automation from the cloud as a SaaS solution, reducing time-to-service introduction from months to minutes with dramatic improvements in productivity and speed. This offering will be available starting in early 2023. Throughout next year, we will be rolling out additional use cases and an AI-driven conversational assistant.
  • AI-Enabled Intelligence: Drives down manual effort and timelines for Day-2 operations with AI-driven operations (AIOps). Networking operational staff can diagnose problems much more quickly, drawing on the proven Juniper AI expertise. With Juniper AIOps, the Cloud Metro network itself can more efficiently observe, predict and remediate network failures and service degradations at service provider scale.
  • Reimagined Metro Device Onboarding: For our first use case leveraging the power of Paragon Automation as a Service, we’ve made end-to-end metro device onboarding available as a service – instantaneous, secured and virtually error-free. This fully automated metro device onboarding as a service is available anywhere from the cloud and can provision a fully configured, secured, tested and inventoried device in minutes, a far cry from the hours it traditionally takes to onboard individual devices.

The Juniper Cloud Metro model for sustainable operations dramatically reduces tedious manual tasks, enabling superior experiences for end users and operators alike. And it enables profitable growth by helping service providers bring differentiated services to market faster than competitors.

Learn more about how Juniper is reinventing metro network operations

Reinventing Metro Networking Systems

In April 2021, we introduced two new platforms in the ACX7000 family, as well as our Unified PON solution, all designed to bring more capacity and intelligence to the metro edge. Today, we’re announcing the next step in this evolution: a greatly expanded ACX7000 family, along with new Juniper co-developed 400GE ZR/ZR+ optics.

The expanded family of Juniper Cloud Metro networking systems is expected to deliver future-proof performance, while reducing power consumption by up to 77%. These new systems feature:

  • Adaptive Power Innovation: The Juniper ACX7000 family leverages the latest generation chipsets and system design, plus new energy innovations, to deliver performance, scale and density with less space and power. With the ability to turn off software functions when not in use, these systems reduce power consumption by 61-77%—and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) up to 71%.
  • Future-Proof Performance: The expanded Cloud Metro portfolio delivers broad scale from 1 Gbps to 4.8 Tbps, and line card capacity of 1.6 Tbps per slot. Juniper also offers port flexibility & density for 1/10/25/40/100/200 and 400G ports, and the ability to support high-power XR/ZR/ZR+ coherent optics on every port simultaneously. With the industry’s only Class D-verified timing precision accuracy, these systems are ready for low-latency applications of the future.

With this kind of headroom, we believe Juniper Cloud Metro systems will last four to seven years longer than alternatives on the market, protecting investment far into the future while reducing e-waste. It adds up to the industry’s most sustainable metro network solution—both for the planet and service providers’ ongoing business economics.

Learn more about the Juniper ACX7000 Family Portfolio.

Building Scalable, Assured and Secure Metro IP Services Fabric Architecture

When we began our Cloud Metro vision, we introduced a new converged IP services fabric architecture optimized for supporting end-to-end network slicing, with the ability to support both scale-up and scale-out expansion. Today, we’re taking Cloud Metro architectures to the next level with:

  • Embedded Active Assurance: Traditional networks require complex standalone solutions to validate network devices and services. Now, we’ve embedded Paragon Active Assurance test agents directly into the Junos OS Evolved in every ACX7000 platform. We’ve turned the metro network itself into a “sensor” that proactively enables user experience, without requiring advanced expertise or tedious manual effort. By adding the ability to emulate 5G UE/gNodeB with Paragon Active Assurance, service providers can also proactively enable end-to-end 5G services, verifying ahead of time, for example, that new cell sites are ready to serve customers or that edge clouds will meet SLA requirements for a new network slice. And incident resolution times can be cut in half—even as most problems are fixed before they affect customers—translating to happier, more loyal subscribers.
  • Built-in Zero Trust Security: Juniper has applied the Zero Trust security principles throughout the Cloud Metro IP services fabric. Each new Juniper ACX7000 platform now features a unique, cryptographically signed device identity (DevID), compliant with IEEE 802.1AR standard and stored in Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 silicon, which is installed at the time of manufacture to mitigate the risk of being spoofed by hackers. The moment a Cloud Metro platform boots, it automatically verifies device authenticity and integrity, attesting that neither hardware nor software has been tampered with and activating RFC-compliant secure Zero-Touch Provisioning (sZTP). In addition, the Juniper Cloud Metro solution features native file encryption to protect data at rest and MACsec on all ports to safeguard data in motion. In addition, the new Paragon Automation as a Service offering includes validation and reporting of network trust to provide insight into infrastructure security posture across an end-to-end network.

Together, these capabilities create a more scalable, assured and secure metro IP services fabric that’s optimized for the explosion of new devices and applications at the metro edge. They provide a powerful foundation to deliver next-generation metro edge services and network slices and achieve sustainable business outcomes.

Reimagine the Metro, Reinvent Your Business

The landscape for new digital experiences and the metro networks enabling them is changing before our eyes. The emergence of the next-generation edge brings new challenges, but also presents an incredible opportunity for service providers to redefine their business and their role in the digital ecosystem. We can’t get there, however, with yesterday’s retro metro. To capitalize on tomorrow’s converged, cloudified edge, service providers will need a new, more sustainable approach to their metro network operations, networking systems and architectures.

While the rest of the industry continues to figure out what a next-generation metro network should look like, Juniper can deliver it today. Our newly expanded Cloud Metro solution provides service providers with a powerful foundation to fuel sustainable business growth—for their people, the planet and their bottom line.

Want to learn more about Juniper and their Cloud Metro solutions? Find them at Stand 30 at Connected Britain in London on 20-21 September 

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