Juniper builds on AI-powered SD-WAN portfolio

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Juniper Networks has integrated its recently acquired SD-WAN technology into its enterprise portfolio with the addition of new features, security and even new hardware options, the company said Tuesday.

The tech giant’s customers and partners can now deploy, configure and operate Juniper’s Session Smart Router (SSR) technology, which it gained from 128 Technology in 2020, through the Juniper Mist cloud. The update demonstrates that Juniper is making good on its promise to extend its AI capabilities beyond just wired and wireless access and into WAN edge domains, said Jeff Aaron, vice president of enterprise marketing for Juniper.

Juniper unveiled new security features, including URL Filtering and Intrusion Detection and Prevention, as part of its SSR offering with a new Branch Security Pack, as well as a new series of SSR-branded hardware devices that can be operated from the Mist Cloud.

Juniper has been on a mission to combine SD-WAN with Mist AIops for the past year. Tuesday’s news has the company adding day 0/1 SSR operations into the Mist Cloud. It includes configuration elements found in the current on-premises Session Smart Conductor, such as the definition and enforcement of routing and security policies, and peer path configuration, according to Juniper.

The integration of SSR with the Mist Cloud and AI engine will let customers and partners manage the life cycle of the entire branch networking stack with centralized operations, Aaron said.

“By bringing AI-driven SD-WAN to the market, we really feel like we’re leapfrogging the competition,” he said. “The entire SD-WAN portfolio can now be managed via Mist, but also, the wired and wireless can all be managed with Mist, so you get that simplicity.”

The updates build on Juniper’s unveiling last year of its WAN Assurance technology, which lowered the cost of Day 2+ SD-WAN operations with features like service level expectations (SLEs), predictive insight, anomaly detection and automated troubleshooting, Aaron added.

“A lot of our partners, especially those offering managed services, want the ability to offer a full client cloud portfolio and the ability to manage it all from a single domain,” he said.

Juniper bought Boston-based 128 Technology in 2020 for $450 million in a move to boost its enterprise AI and edge capabilities.

The 128-powered Juniper SSR offering already provided zero-trust security, but Juniper’s new Branch Security Pack is an add-on SKU to the base SSR package and provides URL Filtering and Intrusion Detection/Prevention System, without the need for additional security appliances, the company said.

“This adds more value to both our customers and our partners by bringing both network and security even tighter together, which has always been one of Juniper’s mainstays,” Aaron said.

Juniper also unveiled two new hardware appliances—the SSR120 and SSR130—to simplify the procurement and on-boarding of branch and “pop-up” sites with Zero Touch Provisioning, same as the process for Juniper’s wired and wireless access switches. The devices are managed from the Mist Cloud.

Juniper’s existing SSR technology can be run on any hardware, but some customers are looking for a physical box that’s ready as soon as it’s plugged in, Aaron said.

The SSR120 and SSR130 are a good fit for small and medium branch platforms with multiple WAN link options, including LTE. Juniper will be launching a third device—the SSR1000 line—which will be for data centre and cloud deployments.

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