While the industry press deliberates the disaggregation of Arista and Cisco, and Juniper’s new CEO, Juniper launched a virtual version of its vMX router, which is supposed to have up to 160 Gbps of throughput (as compared to 10 Gbps offered by Vyatta 5600 and Cisco CSR). Can Juniper really deliver on that promise?
We know that it’s reasonably easy to get 50+ Gbps from an Intel server, with smart solutions going all the way to 200 Gbps. Looking at the vMX data sheet it looks like Juniper got a number of things right:
- They decoupled control and forwarding planes into separate VMs (they probably still have to run on the same physical host, but this makes it easier to dedicate CPU cores to individual functions);
- Virtual forwarding plane uses SR-IOV and Intel DPDK, so the performance claims aren’t totally unrealistic.
I also like their licensing approach: You’re buying licenses (perpetual or annual) in steps of 100 Mbps, 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps, which (I hope) means you can make the virtual router as fast (or as slow) as you need it to be, particularly if you can transfer the licenses between multiple vMX instances.
Will vMX bring the death of physical routers? It will definitely replace the physical routers in service provider environments that decide to use NFV (example: Deutsche Telekom Terastream), but then vMX was the only thing Juniper could do in those environments to compete with Cisco and Brocade.
I’m not so sure about the enterprise WAN edge. As Matt Bolick pointed out during the Tech Field Day @ Interop New York, everyone designs servers for a 2-year lifecycle, whereas the WAN edge routers typically have to survive 5-10 years, and I’m positive smart enterprise buyers know that (regardless of what they say at various Something-Open-Something events).