Juniper Networks’ QFabric solution can be tricky for tech journalists to cover. When Juniper boasts of QFabric customers, those boasts are very nuanced. Not all QFabric customers are really QFabric customers.
The industry is waiting for Juniper to offer customer success stories with the full QFabric architecture, which includes: the QFabric Node, a top-of-rack device also known as the QFX3500; the QFabric Interconnect transport device; and the QFabric Director, which serves as the management and control plane. This is the system that Juniper is trying to sell to the market.
And yet, the QFX3500 is also a very good top-of-rack Ethernet switch that can be deployed in a traditional data center network. Juniper hopes that some of the customers who buy the QFX3500 and use it as an Ethernet switch will eventually buy into the overall QFabric architecture, but there’s no guarantee that they will.
Given that IT organizations are eager to talk to reference customers who have deployed a full QFabric architecture, each press release about a new QFabric customer draws scrutiny. But the tech media can find it tough to parse press releases. For instance, Juniper just announced that the Hong Kong Exhanges and Clearing, Hong Kong’s stock exchange, is building a new data center with QFabric top-of-rack technology. The press release states:
Juniper Networks QFabric technology will be deployed to provide 10 Gigabit per second Ethernet (GbE) top-of-rack connectivity…
Meanwhile, the core of the network will be a “consolidated core network with traffic isolated across each system.” This sounds like a traditional network with QFX3500 switches at the server access layer. This is not a QFabric architecture.
The press release does say that this is a “carrier-class switching infrastructure based on the Juniper Networks QFabric architecture.” That does confuse the issue a bit. Is this network based on the QFabric architecture or a traditional network architecture that just happens to feature the QFX3500s that can operate in either environment?
Nowhere in the press release does Juniper mention the QFabric Interconnect or Director. This is a customer win for Juniper but it is not a QFabric win. Light Reading Asia suggests otherwise with the headline “Juniper’s QFabric Lands in Hong Kong:”
It’s important to distinguish between QFabric architecture deployments and QFX3500 sales. I’m very much looking forward to talking to production QFabric customers when Juniper makes them available, but HKEx doesn’t appear to be one.