A trio of trends — increased migration to public clouds, the emergence of 5G infrastructure, and new applications fueled by artificial intelligence and data analytics — are converging and heralding the need for edge cloud, according to Juniper Networks CTO Raj Yavatkar.
There are two classes of vendors targeting the edge cloud opportunity, he said. Hyperscalers and everyone else. Juniper is decidedly among the latter.
“Hyperscalers have an advantage,” Yavatkar said, “but each one of them will lock our customers, the telcos, into a single public cloud ecosystem, including services specific to their public cloud.”
Juniper, through its partnership with StackPath, has amassed a “cloud agnostic” edge cloud platform that can connect to any of the public clouds, he said. Juniper is the largest investor in the 5-year-old startup, which supports virtual machines (VMs), containers, serverless, content delivery networks (CDNs), web application firewalls, managed domain name systems (DNS), service monitoring, and distributed denial of service (DDoS) protection. StackPath has raised a total of $396 million to date, including a Series B funding round of $216 million.
“No one has the complete platform that StackPath has,” Yavatkar claims, underlining the outsized role the company plays in Juniper’s edge computing strategy for telecommunications services. He dismissed the prospect of StackPath as an acquisition target for Juniper, and instead described it as a strategic partnership that emboldens Juniper’s SDN stack and its strengths in virtual networking, metro transport and backhaul, network slicing, and segment routing.
Juniper Targets Edge With StackPath
“That brings us to the edge of the radio access network (RAN),” Yavatkar told SDxCentral. “Traditionally, the radio access network has been served by vertically integrated platforms from major players. But what 5G has done is, with the [O-RAN Alliance], they have defined 3GPP based open interfaces to open the ecosystem completely so that you can work with smaller radio vendors.” Juniper is also actively involved in the Facebook-led Telecom Infra Project.
“We can provide an end-to-end slicing architecture using an open ecosystem so we do not have to necessarily go completely into a vertically integrated platform,” he said. “And we are likely to be the only one doing that because we don’t have any history of offering such boxes in radio access networks, so we bring a fresh approach.”
Juniper isn’t, like some other vendors, straddling the philosophical fence between open and proprietary forces. It is absolutely in favor of open RAN efforts, even if the bulk of its revenue still comes from traditional products and services in the telecommunications space, according to Yavatkar.
Open RAN and the rise of 5G presents an opportunity for Juniper to play in a market it hasn’t played in before, he said. “More importantly I think we also bring a credibility with the telcos who know that we have delivered in the past, and here we are definitely going to help them take advantage of the open ecosystem.”
While the COVID-19 crisis has accelerated widespread migration of networking workloads to hyperscalers, Yavatkar, who left Google to join the company six months ago, is confident that edge computing is a critical component and equally fortuitousness area for Juniper to serve network operators’ goals.