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Juniper to acquire intent-based networking company Apstra

David Cheriton to join Juniper Networks as chief data center scientist

In its third recent acquisition, Juniper Networks turns its attention to closed-loop automation in the data center, with the announcement that the company has agreed to acquire intent-based networking company Apstra.

As Juniper describes it, Apstra enables system architects to “describe how the data center should behave in terms of outcomes and the system implements and continuously assures that the network operations and experience match the intent.”

“Today’s average network operations centers (NOC) still drown in a myriad of device data, requiring extensive manual operations to understand and take meaningful actions,” wrote Manoj Leelanivas, EVP and chief product officer at Juniper, in a blog post about the acquisition. “Yes, automation exists in the data center. … But to date, automation has largely been focused on the repetitive task at hand. With such practices, it is difficult to move at the speed of business and, from an IT perspective, to move at the speed of cloud.

“It is clear automation in the data center must change in profound ways,” he wrote, going on to add that “What Apstra delivers is systematic, repeatable operations for data center infrastructure, regardless of vendor, and extensible to the campus for a business wide fabric.”

The joining of the two companies, he wrote, “[delivers] on our vision of the self-driving network for the modern cloud era.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Juniper said that it does not expect the acquisition to materially impact its financial performance in its fiscal 2021, but that it will contribute to revenue growth and earnings in 2022.

David Cheriton, Apstra’s co-founder and CEO, will join Juniper Networks as the company’s new chief data center scientist. The billionaire academic, investor and networking expert has also founded companies such as Arista Networks, Granite Systems and Kealia, helped provide early funding for companies like Google and VMware, and founded and led Stanford University’s Distributed Systems Group.

In a blog post, he wrote that Apstra was formed with the objective of creating “a software solution to abstract the complexity and provide powerful automation and validation capabilities for data center networks. To automate the data center, we knew we had to take a distributed systems approach, pulling insight from the infrastructure, fabric, applications and other key systems. As few environments are single vendor, we designed our software from the ground up for multivendor environments. We fundamentally believe that the best innovation comes from the many, and we wanted our customers to have the flexibility to use any vendor without the lock-in that has been the status quo in our industry for far too long.”

Apstra’s customers include Accenture, Bloomberg and Yahoo Japan, Cheriton wrote, as well as “two of the largest global service providers to customers in the mid-market.

“We have enabled them to find ‘needle in haystack problems,’ like a few mis-cabled ports across 10,000 devices and bad fiber links that were debilitating the data center. Fast and accurate root-cause identification and remediation is our specialty and essential to saving customers time and money while ensuring mission-critical infrastructures operate as intended,” he wrote. “After experiencing Apstra working side-by-side with Juniper and seeing the benefits of best-in-breed networking and validated automation, our customers helped us realize that combining forces is a natural and ideal path forward.”


Kelly Hill
Kelly reports on network test and measurement, as well as the use of big data and analytics. She first covered the wireless industry for RCR Wireless News in 2005, focusing on carriers and mobile virtual network operators, then took a few years’ hiatus and returned to RCR Wireless News to write about heterogeneous networks and network infrastructure. Kelly is an Ohio native with a masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on science writing and multimedia. She has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, The Oregonian and The Canton Repository. Follow her on Twitter: @khillrcr

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