Juniper Networks exec: How carriers can build a better telco cloud without large cloud providers

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Juniper Networks is combining its Contrail solution with StackPath's cloud capabilities to build new telco clouds for carriers. (Pixabay)

With increased migration to cloud services and bigger 5G deployments, service providers need to make the move to telco edge clouds, according to a Juniper executive.

Speaking at Thursday's Wells Fargo Securities 2020 Virtual 5G Forum, Juniper's Kevin Hutchins said his company is looking to provide an alternative to carriers partnering with the hyperscale cloud providers for building telco edge clouds.

In order to do so, Juniper is banking on its Contrail solution for constructing and deploying virtualizized network services. Hutchins said Contrail was in production with a number of Tier 1 providers, but Juniper is also leaning on its partnership with StackPath to build cloud-native, telco edge clouds. In March, Juniper and Cox Communications led a Series B round of funding for StackPath that raised its total to $396 million to date.

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StackPath, which Juniper had worked with prior to its investment, offers edge compute products, including virtual machines (VMs), containers and serverless, as well as edge services products such as content delivery network (CDN), web application firewall (WAF), managed DNS, service monitoring and DDoS protection. With the investment in hand, Hutchins joined StackPath's board.

Hutchins said combining Contrail and StackPath's capabilities would provide a viable alternative to the existing cloud solutions

"The thing that I think StackPath can offer is it's really is cloud-agnostic," said Hutchins, SVP of Strategy and Corporate Development, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. "So for many of the carriers, I think having sort of the alternative of doing it themselves or working with a large hyperscaler have really been the only options up to this point, but many of them don't want to sort of put themselves where they only can work with one cloud provider on other business activities.

"And this is where a StackPath can be a pretty strong third alternative that's really cloud-agnostic, but enables the carriers to control more of what they're looking for with regards to their infrastructure."

Hutchins said Juniper has already demonstrated the potential of combining Contrail with StackPath at last year's Mobile World Congress. As carriers expand their 5G services and applications, they'll move into cloud-native telco clouds. Hutchins said that move would be pretty substantial in terms of how the telco clouds are built.

Telco clouds need to separate the control plane and user plane and then extend into an edge compute model to provision the 5G services and applications. In order to offer low latency services, carriers will also scale high-performance cloud architectures at the edge, according to Hutchins.

"What StackPath has done is they have essentially built that architecture, and they've done it for other use cases with some of the technology underpinnings to support where the telco cloud opportunity wants to go," Hutchins said. "This is where we've been working together with them is really how do you enable those the virtualized network functions to operate at scale, to operate with the sort of SLAs that are required to support the carrier use cases? And then where we're working with them is obviously bringing what we've done with Contrail and deployed applications into that environment.

"StackPath really gives us an existing proven cloud platform that's built in a way that it actually supports these use cases, which not all clouds are (capable of doing.) When we merge that together with what we're doing with our existing telco cloud solution built on Contrail, we can offer that next-generation solution for the carriers."

While StackPath provides edge services, such as a content delivery network functions and security for application and content providers, it competes more directly with cloud providers on the compute side.

Hutchins said while StackPath is in the middle of multiple categories, it was primarily built as an edge infrastructure company that also owns services for providing full cloud capabilities. With StackPath and Contrail, Juniper will be able to offer high performance network functions, according to Hutchins.

RELATED: COVID-19 supply chain issues weigh on Juniper Networks' service provider segment in first quarter

Along with 400G and the move to 5G, the combination of StackPath and Contrail could provide a boost to Juniper's service provider sector. In its April Q1 earnings report, Juniper's service provider orders increased 4% year-over-year, which marked the first year-over-year increase since 2017.

RELATED: Google Cloud ties into Spain's Telefónica for cloud and 5G edge use cases

Service providers, such as AT&T and Telefónica, have been partnering with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud to allow their customers to put more of their software-as-a-service (SaaS) workloads into cloud. On the other end, the cloud providers are able to use the telcos' last mile connections to reach their own or mutual customers with the telcos.

StackPath and Juniper can provide a pure edge telco cloud offering, but they don't have the same resources, such as data center regions and applications, as the large cloud providers.

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