BT picks Juniper Networks to help build out its converged network

BT is tapping into Juniper Networks to underpin its Network Cloud infrastructure. (Pixabay)

Instead of going the open source route, which would be a page out of AT&T's playbook, BT is working with Juniper Networks and other vendors to build out its converged network.

The converged network, which BT calls Network Cloud, rolls BT's fixed, video, mobile and Wi-Fi services and applications onto one platform. As the name implies, Network Cloud also allows BT to combine its network functions, and then deploy them on a cloud infrastructure that can be shared across BT's U.K. and global footprint.

The single cloud-driven and automated infrastructure allows BT to offer a wider range of services in a faster and more efficient manner to its customers.

While Juniper is a newly announced partner for BT's converged and cloud network, BT has been working in this direction for some time. Last year BT Chief Architect Neil McRae told FierceTelecom that his company was working on building common service models, or model-based concepts, instead of focusing on NFV.

While AT&T is heavily involved in various open source projects, including ONAP, O-RAN and LF Deep Learning Foundation's Acumos AI Project, BT, has largely gone its own way. Similar to CenturyLink, BT borrows some elements of open source that it finds useful, but largely builds those elements out internally with its own team.

"We use what we think is the best solution," McRae said in an email to FierceTelecom.

Model-based concepts allow BT to create product models across its wider IT infrastructure using TOSCA and some of the work the telco has contributed to the TM Forum. The automated configuration allows BT to see what parts of the network need to be upgraded, rolled back or left alone when doing network upgrades.

In addition to having vendors design products and applications for BT's defined needs, common service models enable a deeper layer of automation. BT has been working on deep network automation and telemetry for four years.

The models also enable BT to dynamically turn up capacity, as well as create network models, composition models and capability models that enable real time network management.

In addition to combining its fixed, wireless, video and mobile services and applications onto one platform, BT has one team of employees for the converged network.

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In order to provision the fixed and mobile services residential and business customers, BT will deploy Juniper's Contrail Networking platform to dynamically enable end-to-end networking policies and control for telco cloud workloads.

Juniper Networks contributed the Open Contrail code to open source in the Linux Foundation in 2013 and since then the renamed Tungsten Fabric has become a member of the Linux Foundation's LF Networking technology umbrella.

"I wouldn’t really call Contrail open source, and for this deployment we aren’t compiling or hacking any code," McRae said. "Juniper is providing software and support for that software."

BT will use Juniper's AppFormix software for monitoring cloud operations management across both virtual and physical environments. Juniper bought AppFormix three years ago for an undisclosed amount to provision real-time and historic monitoring, visibility, and dynamic performance optimization across its Contrail product line.

Juniper is also supplying BT with its high-density QFX series Ethernet switches as part of a flexible leaf and spine underlay fabric.

BT is also leveraging segment routing to enable end to end dynamic network paths with specific QoS and other attributes for network cloud applications such as video gaming, fintech services and high bandwidth 4K HDR video delivery, according to McRae.

BT has long deployed technology and applications from Cisco--Juniper's main rival--including an SD-WAN deployment last year.