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Network automation is one of the key pillars when addressing the ever-evolving needs of enterprise IT and is instrumental in carving out digital transformation success. Telecom Review Asia interviews Sui Jin Foong, systems engineering director, ASEAN & Taiwan, Juniper Networks, to gather more insights on automation to leverage the full potential of networks and data centers.

Tell us about the significance of network automation in simplifying operations and helping operators optimize 5G investments?

Metro traffic bandwidth is estimated to grow more than 500% from 2021 to 2027 with the acceleration of new distributed 5G, IoT and edge services. Traditional metro networks, be it a “big-bang” automation system from a vendor, or a service provider’s own DIY system, built to trombone traffic through a centralized core, will no longer be sufficient to meet the extreme scale, agility and experience that is demanded.

To capitalize on 5G and edge opportunities, organizations need a network built around experience-driven outcomes, not connectivity. Simplification of networks through automation is urgent and necessary, especially if operators intend to offer advanced services that are enabled with network slicing.

Network slicing is a fundamentally new way of networking. Network slicing enables multiple independent end-to-end logical networks to be created on demand and run on a shared physical infrastructure. End-to-end refers to the RAN and other access networks, the transport and core networks as well as the telco cloud, even including public cloud and enterprise on-premises data centers.

Network slicing is the biggest monetization opportunity for 5G. According to global tech market advisory firm ABI Research, 5G network slicing will generate revenue in excess of US$20 billion by 2026. Network slicing enables new business models and use cases for verticals and opens new revenue opportunities for service providers.

Juniper Networks has been able to create automated and efficient networks with customers through a revolutionary approach of applying cloud principles to architecting, building, and operating metro networks.

With AI and automation at the forefront of this new approach, service providers are equipped to simplify day-to-day workflows, deploy services faster (with device onboarding taking just minutes instead of hours), reduce trouble tickets and accelerate time-to-service (and therefore revenue) restoration. This significantly improves productivity, empowering network engineers and operators to accomplish more, which is critical for employee satisfaction and retention.

Can you tell us more about data center automation and its benefits?

Higher volumes of data traffic, more distributed applications and users and fewer resources are challenging data center networking teams to keep up with day-to-day demands. With automation handling monitoring, analysis and detection of potential threats and challenges, network engineers can focus on higher-value tasks like network design, outage planning, and infrastructure improvement.

This places IT teams in good stead to be agile and flexible enough to meet evolving business needs, respond to unpredictable external events, accommodate distributed architectures, and defend against pervasive threats. For instance, Juniper Networks’ Apstra solution automates the setup and maintenance of data center networks.

 

In an environment where supply chain networks have been put on hold, organizations are able to onboard equipment from different vendors without having to put up with long wait times for a specific vendor. With less time spent on manually setting up networks, maintaining networks and learning vendor-specific automation systems, network engineers can focus their time on strategic tasks and let the intent-based networking system interpret the configurations as intended.

The Apstra solution has provided up to a 320% return on investment (ROI) over the first three years of deployment. From network design and implementation to ongoing operations, the automation platform has a significant impact that can help organizations unlock the true potential of their skilled workforce by freeing them from mundane, manual tasks.

Lastly, we have seen many organizations use managed Kubernetes services in self-managed clouds, for example, mobile edge clouds. However, this commonly leads to kubesprawl, a popular eponym for deploying a large number of Kubernetes clusters. Juniper’s CN2 allows the federated management of the overlay networks of multiple Kubernetes clusters, providing seamless connectivity and a single point of analytics and security policy for the entire multi-cluster.

Can you share with us Juniper Network’s partnerships in APAC and their impact on verticals?

We have a long history of working with many of the region's service providers to build robust and scalable networking infrastructure across Asia Pacific.

In Indonesia, one of our long-time customers, XL Axiata, deployed Juniper's Segment Routing over IPv6 (SRv6) and routing platforms from our 400G portfolio for network upgrades to support the growing demand for 5G services and the country’s flourishing digital economy. Similarly, Unified National Networks, the Single Wholesale Network that holds all telecommunications infrastructure in Brunei, selected our experience-first solutions to modernize its core, provider edge and aggregation networks to better support the government's five-year masterplan for transforming the country into a smart nation.

We also continue to build a strong base of cloud service providers in the region. In Thailand, we worked with Nipa Cloud, one of the country's fastest-growing local cloud service providers that provides a comprehensive suite of services hosted on a state-of-the-art OpenStack and Tungsten Fabric implementation with Ceph Storage. We work together to upgrade its networking infrastructure to better support its business growth.

Outside of Southeast Asia, we have a strong base of service provider customers, and this continues to grow. We partnered with Tata Play Fiber in India to build a 400G-capable network powered by Juniper's Cloud Metro solutions, enabling a sustainable, scalable network that will enable enhanced digital experiences for millions of people across the country. Japan’s National Institute of Informatics partnered with us to upgrade its SINET6 academic information network to meet the diverse and complex needs of research and education institutions across the country and globally. 

Over the last few years, we have seen strong demand from a variety of service providers serving a wide range of verticals. We anticipate continued growth, which will be fueled by the service providers' needs to expand their networks and increase capacity in order to better respond to the accelerated demand for connectivity from businesses across various verticals such as healthcare, education, retail and more.

 

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