Aston Martin’s Gayden factory, in the UK, was the location for the launch of Juniper Cloud Metro Network last week. The  Aston Martin factory was an interesting (or even inspired) location for the launch of what promises to be a highly flexible and automated solution for CSP access networks.

The setting reflected the challenges that telco will face in embracing and adopting what Juniper’s Cloud Metro network can provide: shifting from a production line that produces innovative, high-performance access services, by hand-crafting them at low volumes with limited automation and high levels of manual intervention. Moving instead to an access network “factory” that can deliver high levels of innovation for enterprises, mass personalisation for customers, with high levels of automation, delivered at scale.

“It’s no longer a box.”

Typically, network equipment vendor launches focus on the new hardware boxes that have been produced: processing speeds, energy consumption and silicon design, with the management software that will run this relegated to a footnote at the end. So it was refreshing to see that Juniper kicked proceedings off with the automated management of this new access network at the heart of their message. The right order in Appledore’s view.

Automation, flexibility and security are key themes that Juniper is seeking to deliver to the metro network. Their positioning coherently brings together Paragon Automation Suite (formerly Netrounds), with Juniper’s Mist AIOps, and its security portfolio, all delivered as a Service (aaS). With this combination, CSPs will, in Juniper’s words, get out of a “DIY approach” to access and be able to flexibly scale their access network.

Ultimately, Juniper did get to network boxes, but even here they were taking the overall management of the access network seriously, with embedded Paragon active testing in the device, zero-trust security in the silicon, and embedded Mist AIOps features.

The “operational management first” approach to access networks, from Juniper, is, we believe, an important step to enabling a new type of access network to appear: one with an increasing diversity of services, particularly services that go East-West in the access network, rather than always going North-South from access to core. The challenge is that CSP customers are not necessarily organised to procure this complete solution, with incumbent legacy OSS systems (and their procurement) often distinct from the network procurement. Juniper’s challenge, and opportunity, is to bridge this gap, enabling the telco access network to be delivered as a platform by CSPs.