Juniper's Apstra 4.0 release eases enterprise connectivity

Juniper Networks unveiled Version 4.0 of its Apstra software for managing intent-based networking, a move which comes about four months after Juniper closed its deal to acquire Apstra.

The key enhancements in the latest version of the software includes the ability to create validated connectivity templates and tags that make setting up intent-based networking easier and quicker by allowing companies to add devices, workloads and servers in bulk across the entire network fabric. 

“This is simple, validated and repeatable connectivity design for attached systems,” said Mansour Karam, vice president of products at Juniper. “You need to operate and manage your network as one system. Otherwise, if you go to all this trouble to set up all these configurations separately, and you have one configuration wrong, you’re dead in the water.”

Apstra Version 4.0 also expands on the software’s previous multi-vendor extensions by adding support for VMware NSX-T 3.0 and Enterprise SONiC. This is in addition to previously supported data center switching from Juniper, Nvidia (Nvidia Cumulus), Arista Networks and Cisco Systems. 

Apstra’s NSX-T integration assures and optimizes operation between the virtual and physical networks, as the software can track new NSX-T virtual network additions and validate fabric connections for them, while also making it easier for operators to locate virtual machines within the fabric. 

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The capabilities in the 4.0 software release were already in the works well before Juniper announced its plans late last year to acquire Apstra, although the acquisition came after the two companies already had been working together to enable Apstra’s software to work with Juniper switches. While Karam said supporting multi-vendor networking always has been key for Apstra, the companies have been working hard on their own integrated offering.

“We’re very committed to multi-vendor, but there is also a ‘better together’ story here,” said Karam. “There are a lot of exciting ideas here for how Juniper and Apstra can go after the enterprise market.”

With that in mind, the latest Apstra software release also includes turnkey building block solutions that combine intent-based networking with Juniper switches and options for Secure Services Gateways in a scalable architecture for quick data center deployments as companies look for easier options for modernizing and automating data centers.

Juniper increasingly has been positioning itself as an enabler of greater intelligence and automation for the data center environment. In fact, the company's CEO said as much at an investor conference just this week. This maneuvering has intensified as the company has integrated its acquisitions of Mist, 128 Technology and now Apstra.