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Juniper's QFabric streamlines datacentre networking

The converged networking architecture, which goes up against Cisco's Unified Fabric, uses a single network layer to drive down latency and get the most out of hardware
Written by Jack Clark, Contributor

Juniper Networks has introduced a new datacentre architecture, which uses a single network layer to cut latency and make best use of hardware.

QFabric is designed to give network resources access to each other at high speed, made possible by efficient interconnects and a new networking architecture, the company said on Wednesday.

"All interfaces of QFabric are equidistant to each other in terms of latency and equivalent in terms of bandwidth they can sink or source," Pradeep Sindhu, Juniper's chief technology officer, wrote in a document defining the architecture (PDF). "This means that the internal network of QFabric appears to its users to be flat, not hierarchical."

The converged networking architecture collapses the three-layer network down to a single layer, which in turn reduces latency and equipment overhead. QFabric will be composed of three components — a QF/Node that works as the distributed decision engine for the fabric; a QF/Interconnect, which provides high-speed transport; and the QF/Director, which delivers a common management and control interface.

The first product, available for order at the end of March, is the QF/Node component. The Juniper Networks QFX3500 switch, which has 960 million-packets-per-second (Mpps) of switching capacity and a throughput of 1.28Tbps, can also operate as a stand-alone 64-port 10Gb Ethernet switch with Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) and Fibre Channel gateway functionality.

The QF/Interconnect and QF/Director components will be available for order in the third quarter of the year, Juniper said.

vGQ Virtual Gateway

Additionally, QFabric makes it possible for Juniper to integrate its vGQ Virtual Gateway, which monitors the security of individual virtual machines, with its SRX Series Services Gateway secure router. Companies that install the integrated products will have "visibility, enforcement and scale across the entire physical and virtual datacentre fabric", Juniper said in a statement.

Juniper is in a three-horse race with Brocade and Cisco to take control of datacentres' networks. Rival and dominant networking company Cisco has been pushing its own range of Unified Fabric products since 2008, and in 2010, Brocade announced its own converged datacentre scheme, which also seeks to simplify datacentres by removing network layers.

IBM, NetApp, CA Technologies and VMware were all named as Juniper's partners in the launch.

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