Recently, the Juniper Apstra team had the opportunity to spend time with twelve industry practitioners and thought leaders at Networking Field Day 29 (NFD29) to showcase and explore new Apstra capabilities.
Over the last few years, many users have asked if they can apply the complexity-crushing elements of Apstra to all data center designs and architectures individually and without imposing any constraints on topology, location or choice of protocols. Well, that’s exactly what we’ve just launched with our Apstra 4.1.1 release, which includes the new Freeform capability. With this new, powerful upgrade, if you can design a network, then Apstra can automate and operate it!
Apstra has always been comparable to super powerful self-driving software that automates all aspects of managing data center networks from Day 0/1/2+. With this release, we’re now meeting customers wherever they are on their automation journey and we aim to partner with them on that journey to full intent-based automation. For example, some want to start only with configuration automation, OS upgrade automation or audit and rollback. No matter where their network automation journey begins, Apstra complements current efforts and solutions with powerful capabilities that integrate with existing infrastructure, amplifying the power and effectiveness of automation. While doing so, Apstra also provides the tools and safeguards to ensure that with all its power, network management and automation remain as seamless and safe as possible. As the famous Pirelli tire ad stated, “Power is nothing without control”. It’s true for tires and it’s certainly true for networks! It’s now possible to safely experience the power of automating the network firsthand and, in turn, enjoy the outcomes that Apstra customers have raved about for years – on any network.
Juniper presented four sessions at NFD29 that dug into the details of Apstra and the new Freeform release. And because these sessions are now available online, anyone can view what hundreds of live viewers saw in early September. The sessions include:
Juniper Apstra update, and the rationale for Apstra Freeform: In this session, we reminded everyone why Apstra was founded, and the major pain points the network operators wanted us to solve:
- Speed of operations, without compromising reliability;
- Avoid vendor lock-in, so that organizations can take advantage of open standards with the ability to utilize equipment from multiple vendors; and
- Establish an operating model that scales with any business, up to thousands of devices.
We also shared that addressing these pain points required imposing some constraints to topologies and protocols. Apstra did push the envelope over the years to support many more protocols and topologies; yet users were interested in leveraging some of the powerful Apstra capabilities individually and in any arbitrary environment. While they understood the power of intent-based networking and the reason for imposing some constraints, some users wanted to follow their own automation journey, and have us meet them where they are, rather than us compelling them to leap into where we wanted them to go.
We then introduced Freeform during the sessions, our answer to this customer “challenge”. With the addition of Apstra Freeform, not only do we think we have the most turn-key solution on the planet; we also have an incredibly versatile and flexible solution, supporting any topology, any protocol and greenfield as well as brownfield environments.
Use Case – Minding the Gap: In this session, we demonstrated the flexibility of Apstra Freeform by using it to automate “the most ridiculous topology we could come up with.”: the London Underground! So, we modeled the London Underground with Apstra Freeform, showing how Juniper can bring order to the spaghetti that is The Tube. In fact, one NFD29 delegate even said, “Picking the London subway system as a demo topology definitely illustrates the ‘model any network’ capability of Apstra Freeform.”
Running Intent-Based Analytics on Apstra Freeform Blueprints: Juniper Apstra offers something for everyone. The Apstra Freeform reference design provides complete versatility and user control, while the Apstra data center reference designs are purpose-built and provide a heavily curated, turn-key experience with guardrails. Apstra’s powerful Intent-Based Analytics, which are core to the Apstra Data Center reference design, are also available for Apstra Freeform. While Apstra Freeform is more versatile, it still delivers powerful analytics. In this session, we shared how operators can run intent-based analytics on Apstra Freeform blueprints across several use cases.
Juniper Apstra Licensing: Network automation for all. With Apstra Freeform, we’re dramatically expanding the number of uses where Apstra is applicable. And with new Apstra Licensing, we’re making it easier (and cheaper!) than ever to get started. Our goal is for every data center on the planet to benefit from the amazing capabilities the Apstra solution delivers, and that our customers rave about. Further, we’d like to make the decision to start with automation a no-brainer for network operators that are operating networks of any size.
Discover the Power of Juniper Apstra
I invite you to go back and check out the replays of these sessions to witness some of the reactions from the audience, albeit sometimes in understated ways, like “310 changes only took a few seconds… that’s pretty decent.” Indeed – it is, although in reality, Apstra scales much further than that.
Additionally, we’d love to talk to you about automating your data center in the future. For more information on Juniper Apstra, check out our recent Apstra Freeform press release, blog and the Apstra Solution Page.