What’s the best way to make your data center faster, more agile and more cost-effective? The answer is automating with Juniper Apstra—and that’s not all. Businesses using Apstra have saved thousands of hours on manual tasks and freed up hundreds of thousands of dollars in operating costs. They’ve radically simplified their environments to roll out new products and expand into new markets more quickly, without having to hire specialized experts.
While that sounds great for those companies, what about those who aren’t using a particularly standardized reference design? What if they have a highly customized architecture built to their own specifications? The answer is still the same.
Today, we’re announcing a new addition to Apstra – Freeform Reference Designs. Now, businesses can bring the speed and agility of Apstra to any data center— any vendor, any topology and any network design. With new licensing options, they can start automating for a small fraction of the cost of a new switch.
Bottom line: if you’ve been imagining what a self-driving data center could do for your business, but you didn’t think Apstra could work in your environment, it’s time to take another look.
Setting the Standard for Data Center Automation
Well-run data centers have become mission-critical for almost every company, but today’s business landscape doesn’t make delivering them easy. Managing modern data centers means facing constant pressure to move faster—to roll out new products, move into new markets and deliver new value before the competition. Many businesses still struggle with component shortages and supply chain delays. Through it all, the data center itself keeps growing more complex. The number of new technologies to accommodate and new capabilities to build keeps increasing, while the pool of available talent with advanced software skills remains tighter than ever.
This is the playing field we compete on now, and these challenges aren’t going away. But there’s a way to get ahead of them and give the business an edge: automation. And as organizations in every industry have discovered, no one does data center network automation quite like Apstra. According to Atos, a global leader in digital transformation with 110,000+ employees and annual revenue of €11 billion:
“Data center reference designs within Apstra allow us to deploy and operate data center network fabrics quickly, automatically and seamlessly. . . with Apstra Freeform, we’re able to automatically build different architectures and still operate them using Apstra.”
– Lee Wright, VP of Network and Voice Engineering, Atos
Additionally, Juniper Apstra provides:
- Intent-based networking: Customers decide what they want their fabric to do, and Apstra handles the how: device configurations, OS upgrades and much more. As the industry pioneer in intent-based networking, Apstra maintains a single-source-of-truth for what the data center should look like and how it should behave. Using end-to-end telemetry and observability, it continually validates infrastructure and operations against the blueprint design to assure that customers’ data centers deliver on that intent.
- Reliability, which translates to speed: Business agility doesn’t come from doing the same inefficient tasks more quickly (not that you’d know it from some vendor tools, which focus narrowly on automating CLI commands). Real speed comes from reliable, consistent and repeatable operations. It’s a lesson we’ve learned partnering with hyperscalers, the masters at running massive networks. With standardized, validated and repeatable designs that customers can stamp out every time they need to expand, Apstra provides the freedom to go wherever the business leads. It’s easy to add new vendors, roll out new capabilities and even build brand-new data centers knowing everything will work as it should.
- The industry’s only multivendor solution: The best protection against supply chain disruptions—or getting locked into one vendor’s pricing and product roadmap—is the ability to quickly change vendors and Apstra truly lets customers do this. Multiple customers use Apstra for what they call “lead time arbitrage,” pivoting away from an incumbent that needed many months to fill an order and swapping in a vendor who could deliver much sooner. Multivendor automation also expands hiring flexibility and increases efficiency. With Apstra, customers no longer need to find and train experts in one vendor’s portfolio and operating system (OS). If someone can click a mouse, they can manage infrastructure from Day 0 to Day 2+. By providing an abstraction layer, Apstra ensures consistent operations regardless of vendor, and turns each person on the team into an expert.
Most importantly, Apstra delivers results. According to a recent economic analysis from Forrester Research, companies using Apstra saw a 320% Return on Investment (ROI), on average, while freeing up resources to position their business for growth.
Our customers across the globe enjoy Apstra benefits every day. But until now, they all had one thing in common: their data centers used more common, standardized architecture designs. With today’s announcement, Juniper can now bring Apstra reliability, speed and agility to any data center. With Freeform Reference Designs, Apstra now supports any topology, any protocol and any network design – even domains outside the data center.
Freeform provides an interactive canvas to visually design and re-arrange any network topology. Use the drag-and-drop Freeform editor to draw nodes and the relationships between them. With Freeform, the user is responsible for the configurations, but Apstra pushes them out. Customers get the same automation experience, with Apstra continually maintaining and validating their environment and acting as a single source of truth for observability, telemetry, anomaly detection and auditing.
With Freeform, businesses now have two broad options for Apstra automation:
- Let Juniper automate: Using Apstra Validated Data Center Reference Designs, customers get a heavily curated experience with guardrails. These designs offer some customizability, but they’re purpose-built for speed and simplicity in 3- and 5-stage spine-leaf or collapsed spine architectures. For example, if you think of automation like cooking, this is like getting a Blue Apron meal kit. You don’t have to be an expert chef to make a delicious meal; all ingredients come pre-measured, with simple instructions walking you through every step. Customize where you choose (e.g., with Apstra configlets), but in sum, it’s very hard to mess up dinner.
- Self-management : Using your own customized fabric? Freeform is an “anything goes” reference design. Use it to drive Apstra intent-based automation, observability and assurance. This option is great for organizations more familiar with DIY automation and DevOps—or in our cooking analogy, skilled chefs who don’t need guardrails, just directions to the grocery store and a world class kitchen. Use whichever ingredients you like and prepare them however you choose.
In today’s other big news, we’ve reimagined Apstra licensing to make it even easier to start automating. With the new entry-level Standard tier, customers can start automating for less than 5% of the cost of a switch. Included with the Standard license, customers get a six-month trial of the Advanced tier, so they can try an expanded automation, assurance and advanced analytics experience. Plus, the option to upgrade to Advanced or Premium is available at any time. Customers can also use any reference design—Validated DC or Freeform—at any tier. In addition, Juniper Networks Professional Services are available to provide Apstra Automated Deployment and Migration Services. Both Services are fully customizable and tailored to specific customer requirements or used for any feature, protocol or architecture.
Start Your Automation Journey
At a time with so much in flux, there’s one thing businesses can count on: uncertainty is here to stay. Your ability to respond to the unexpected—more quickly than the competition, with minimal disruption to your operations—will increasingly dictate business success. We dare you to run other DC fabric management solutions over multivendor networks. We dare you to let someone with less than a week of experience in your network deploy a new switch with our competitors’ solutions. No matter where you begin your automation journey, and what hardware vendor you’re using, Apstra can get you to the next level—faster, more reliably and with industry-leading agility.