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Juniper CTO Says His Rivals Got Automation All Wrong

And he should know. Before joining Juniper Networks about 10 months ago, Bikash Koley spent 10 years building what’s probably the world’s largest hyperscale cloud, also known as Google. That kind of scale is impossible without automation throughout.

Hyperscalers, such as his former employer or its scale peers Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook, “try to not build automation as either an afterthought or in a silo,” he said in an interview for this week’s episode of The Data Center Podcast.

Juniper’s competitors in enterprise networking have a separate automation or orchestration solution for each portion of the network, he said. The Sunnyvale, California-based network vendor’s biggest rivals include Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, among others, but Cisco is the main one.

“They have a solution for data center, they have a different solution for branch, they have a third solution for campus, they have a fourth solution for SD-WAN, they have a fifth solution for public cloud,” Koley explained. “If you were the CIO … somehow you glue this together by building automation on top, and that never works.” Every time you add another controller to control controllers underneath in a hierarchy, “your chances of breaking things goes up – it goes up exponentially.”

Juniper Networks

Bikash Koley, CTO, Juniper Networks

He came to Juniper to build a network technology stack using the same automation-from-the-get-go principles his team used to build Google’s global infrastructure. When he left Google last year, Koley was a distinguished engineer at the Alphabet business unit, in charge of its network architecture, engineering, and planning activities.

For a network engineer, being in charge of designing Google’s network doesn’t necessarily sound like an inferior career option to being CTO for a second- or third-place networking vendor that’s lately been struggling to grow. Neither does it look like a clear fit, but that’s only at first glance. (“I was not expecting that call, let me put it that way,” he said.)

But having witnessed the process of enterprises migrating to the cloud from up close, Koley saw an interesting challenge in front of Juniper. Enterprises today want some version of cloud infrastructure, be it on-premises or in the public cloud, but incumbent vendors haven’t made it easy for them to get it.

“I saw this inside-out from the other side of the divide, which is when you’re building public cloud, and you’re trying to onboard somebody,” he said. “It was crystal-clear to me that there is a very large opportunity for somebody like Juniper … to really simplify this experience.”

In this episode of The Data Center Podcast, we talk with Koley about the technology stack he’s building at Juniper to get there, about things he’s learned while building Google’s infrastructure, and about his expectations for getting Juniper back to growth:

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