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Today, as businesses need to grow the capabilities respective to their data centers, they must navigate a host of challenges that can result in delays or feature and functionality compromises. Current supply chain issues can further limit or delay data center capability expansion. Organizations might consider vendor and product diversification to circumvent these hurdles but most EVPN fabric orchestrators support only a single manufacturer's product. Additionally, building a custom fabric EVPN either by hand or through an automation kit requires engineering expertise across the multi-vendor platforms and can result in an error-prone orchestrator. Juniper's new Apstra solution addresses these challenges and enables data center capability expansion and growth.

From a platform configuration perspective, Apstra is an orchestrator that behaves much like Cisco DCNM/CNDFC or Arista CVP. The ultimate differentiator is that Apstra works well with all the major switch manufacturers. And, in many cases, the Apstra on-box agent enhances the native abilities of the switch error and misconfiguration reporting via deduplication and with depth and granularity of telemetry. In addition, the on-box agent aids in scaling complex expansive networks.

Source: Juniper Networks

Typically, an orchestrator is used to reduce the time spent troubleshooting a network and to automate moves, adds, and changes for any single vendor's switches. Apstra takes a newer approach to orchestration, one that Gartner has referred to as Intent-Based Networking, or IBN. 

With IBN, throughout the design, deployment and operational phases of a network, Apstra maintains its user's blueprint by converting it to the vendor-specific instructions each switch needs without requiring the user to have even a low level of knowledge about a particular vendor's switch. The Apstra flow across these phases ensures a closed-loop, single source of truth system. 

Source: Juniper Networks

In the Design phase, the user creates the network and device variables and then creates a blueprint that outlines their intended design. Next, in the Deploy phase, Apstra pushes an on-box agent (preferred), when supported, or utilizes an off-box agent. Then the user pushes the blueprint which deploys unique vendor-specific low-level configuration changes. Once deployed, Apstra receives telemetry from the devices to analyze and validate that the current device state matches the blueprint. This creates a single source of truth, closing the loop.

It does not matter if the switches belong to vendors such as Arista, Cisco, Juniper or others, users can install the configurations without having an understanding of the various switch networking operating systems or commands. As such, hardware becomes essentially fungible with respect to the homogenous fabric. 

While other fabric automation solutions on the market can achieve similar goals, Apstra was designed from the ground up to be vendor-agnostic which gives it a distinct advantage and puts you, the customer, in the driver's seat by allowing you to procure whatever hardware meets business objectives, budgets and timelines.

I encourage you to take a test drive of Apstra on the ATC platform to experience the freedom a multi-vendor network orchestration solution provides while envisioning the power of an intent-based network.

Technologies