Juniper advances network automation community, skillsets

Juniper is looking to be an evangelist for network automation by announcing a variety of applications, tools, labs and libraries that it says will hasten adoption of the technology for businesses and network professionals.

Michael Cooney Oct 12th 2018

Juniper is positioning the company to be an evangelist for network automation by announcing applications, tools, labs and libraries that it says will hasten adoption the technology for businesses and network professionals.

The inherent role of automation is to reduce the daily toil of repetitive tasks that lead to mistakes. It also provides guardrails to ensure service-level agreement guarantees. SLAs and reliability are not left to caffeine-powered individual heroics, but are achieved through well-trained automation heroes, also known as network reliability engineers (NRE), wrote Juniper's CTO and vice president, Bikash Koley, in a blog about the announcement. 

“Since a critical part of automated operations is the individual engineers and processes they follow, Juniper has put deliberate investment into these areas by introducing many formal and informal training programs, cloud-based lab services, testing as a service, free trials, live throwdowns and [the new] Juniper Engineering Network (EngNet),” Koley wrote. 

Juniper Engnet is a portal that includes a variety of automation tools, resources and social communities.

According to the vendor, the site features API documentations, access to Juniper Labs, virtual resources, a learning portal and an automation exchange of useful network automation tools.

“Juniper Engineering Network is aimed at elevating the entire networking community to move beyond incumbent CLIs knowledge and toward an automated, abstracted, self-driving technology. The networking community, including Juniper customers and partners, can contribute to the Automation Exchange within the community," Juniper stated.

Other components of the automation push include:

  • NRE Labs: Offers engineers and network operators browser-based network automation lessons that focus on real-life workflows like troubleshooting, verification and configuration. NREs can practice their automation proficiency and apply their learnings to confidently automate workflows in their own network using the open tools from the lessons. Built as an open-source project, NRE Labs can now be accessed in tech preview by anyone interested in advancing their automation expertise free of charge, Juniper said.
  • Cloud Customer Certification Labs: CCL provides users with a platform in the Juniper cloud to design and run a virtual lab environment consisting of networking systems, traffic generators and other network-automation tools, such as Juniper’s Network Implementation and Test Automation (NITA). For users without their own physical labs or those that want to supplement their labs with Juniper’s cloud, Cloud CCL provides network engineers with an environment for automated testing and staging, Juniper said.
  • Extended services: Juniper’s extended service offerings provide a variety of educational, professional and advanced engineering services to improve network automation capabilities. For example, Juniper Testing-as-a-Service uses the new Cloud Customer Certification Labs to replicate customer network topologies, configurations, traffic flows and real-life environments, validating all planned changes and to emulate future requirements. Juniper Automation and DevOps training courses are available at entry and intermediate levels, along with exams to certify engineers at JNCIA and JNCIS respectively, Juniper said.

“The true north of Juniper is to help customers reduce complexity in their networks, and this new engineering community will accelerate automation adoption, and in addition to advanced trainings and education services, gives engineers a fast track to automate day-to-day network operations,” said Rami Rahim, CEO of Juniper. “It’s not just technology that drives network transitions. The burden is also on us to create communities where network professionals and others can learn new techniques and DevOps processes.”

Indeed Juniper isn’t the only vendor trying to change the networking culture. Cisco has its DevNet community which offers tools, libraries, programming, training and other resources aimed at helping networking professionals, developers and infrastructure experts exploit programmable networks.

Juniper expands relationship with Nutanix

In other news from Juniper’s NXTWORK annual customer and partner summit this week, the vendor expanded its existing relationship with Nutanix by blending Juniper’s Contrail Enterprise Multicloud offering with Nutanix APIs for greater network visibility into virtualized workloads. 

In addition, the companies more closely tied together Juniper’s Unified Cybersecurity Platform and Nutanix’s software-defined networking offering Flow and AHV hypervisor to bolster security by employing micro-segmentation in enterprise cloud environments.

Enterprises will be able to deploy Juniper’s vSRX virtual firewall in their Nutanix environment, extending the same capability across multicloud architectures with a single point of control using vSRX on-premises and in AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, Juniper said.