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‘‘Focus on your customer and not the competitor’’

As the Internet takes on the role of a mission critical tool for business, the demand and pressure on the Internet network infrastructure and the service provider is growing at breakneck speed. Karthik Natarajan, sales manager-India, Juniper Networks India Private Ltd., speaks to Network Magazine about building strong Internet networks and how Juniper is helping service providers deploy them.

You claim to bridge the gap between the core of the Internet network and the edge. Comment.

The Internet has today moved away from being a luxury to a mission critical platform for conducting any business in the world. As the dependence and reliance on Internet increases, so has the customer expectation for bandwidth. This has obviously led to a huge demand for stronger and reliable infrastructure.

Juniper Networks was founded four years ago to target the core of the Internet network, as there was really no product built to handle the speed and bandwidth of the Internet in that space. We realized that there was a huge gap, so we developed a new family of router platforms.

We started with our flagship product M40 Internet Backbone Router, running JUNOS Internet software. In fact, during the last two years we have launched five different platforms--M5, M10, M20, M40 and M160. This series of Internet routers perform at wire rate over the most flexible combination of interfaces. The M series is fully interoperable with other vendors' equipment allowing easy integration to existing infrastructure.

We began by focusing on the core of the service provider's network infrastructure. But as our M40 became successful, the service providers demanded a similar product with lower capacity to service the edge of the same network. We compressed the M160 into a smaller box and developed M5 and M10, which were able to provide similar reliability but a lower capacity, required at the edge of the network.

When mapping the business plan, we realized that there was a big demand at the center of the network and hence we initially positioned ourselves there and later decided to build smaller boxes for the lower end of the network as per the market demand.

What are the special Juniper offerings that are attracting big clients?
Our vision has been to provide the fundamental infrastructure for next generation applications and convergence. We are the only vendors currently providing wire speed, Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) performance on all interfaces. Thus we are able to help the service providers to integrate new standards and technology into the IP infrastructure.

During the first stage of our product development we started with Internet Processor ASIC, which boosted packet forwarding performance to match the speed and bandwidth offered by today's emerging optical infrastructure. Moreover, the next version, Internet Processor II ASIC adds the IP intelligence to the earlier packet forwarding capacity. This supports some of the largest and fastest growing service providers in the world.

Later, we offered products that range from the core to the edge of the service provider network. These offer services such as multiprotocol label switching, filtering, rate limiting and multicasting. This in turn helps the service providers uphold their service level agreements and run the network in a cost-effective manner. We target service providers who are focused on providing high-speed value added services. They will be able to offer bandwidth management, multiservices, content and web hosting, public and private peering and high-speed access.

Our services include consulting, design and project management. We also depute resident engineers who provide operational, design and planning assistance. We have an extended support service, which includes Juniper Networks' technical assistance center and customer support center.

What are the major differences between a traditional router and an Internet router?
The main differences are related to speed and capacity or bandwidth. For instance, if you need to connect four or five offices, where data flow is not heavy and transfer rate is not crucial, very high or powerful processing power is not required. But when it comes to the core of the Internet infrastructure, where we have huge ISPs such as VSNL speaking to UUNET, there is a huge flow of data. The service providers in this case need to ensure that data transfer between the two networks is secure and complete at a higher speed.

That is where Internet routers are deployed, as they are able to provide speed, capacity, efficiency and high rate of data transfer. While traditional routers just take data packets and move it across the network on a best effort basis, Internet routers do it at wire speed. Routers today, for instance, at E1 link, can move data end to end at 2Mbps, giving wire rate. Our routers enable scaling of the network from T1 and E1 to OC-192c/STM-64 speeds. That can be translated as 10Gb wire rate. This we think is our USP.

At one point of time Juniper was practically taking on networking majors such as Cisco. How do you see the competition around you now?
As a company, Juniper focuses on the customer rather than the competitors. We focus on relentless execution. That has been our core strength. We focus on servicing the clients rather than focusing on what our clients are doing right now. Cisco is a great company, which invented the router. But at that point of time, it was designed to handle a different function. It was developed to perform protocol conversion, such as from IP to IPX etc. This has undergone a change. The networks evolved so that multiprotocol conversion was no longer necessary. In fact, IP is fast becoming the de facto network standard and convergence is the call of the day. Juniper on the other hand is the child of the Internet. We created our boxes keeping in mind the needs of the Internet network infrastructure. While Cisco set out to solve a different problem, we have set out to solve a different one.

How do you think the Indian ISPs and service providers should plan when building or expanding their networks?
Worldwide the service providers are not able to figure out the speed at which data should flow or reach the customers. Though they plan, within six months they realize that what they had planned was not enough. Most often they feel the need to triple or quadruple their capacity to make it efficient and this is how the speed at the core of the network is really increasing.

That is the trend catching up in India too. Here, most of the connectivity is through dial up. Over a period of time that is going to change, when it will not just be people speaking to people, but machines speaking to machines. Then, the demand for bandwidth and speed is going to increase. So the service providers who are deploying their infrastructure today should keep in mind the futuristic kind of applications that will eventually run on their networks.

For India, building an IP based network will do wonders. It will not only allow easy convergence but is also cheaper than a switched network. India is very unique because it has no legacy and hence can leapfrog generations of technology. But bigger ISPs such as VSNL and Satyam have deployed some legacy systems, because of which, they cannot offer very high speeds or huge bandwidth. In this scenario, Juniper is positioning itself to address that market and the emerging market with its latest product offerings. While we see M40 and M160 doing well in the country, we predict that smaller boxes such as M5 and M10 going to the Class B and Class C ISPs, moving fast.

Thus we have pegged India as the second largest market in terms of Internet growth for Juniper next only after China and Korea.

NM - Priyanka Bhattacharya

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