What to make of Juniper’s QFabric test

Juniper Networks has released what it says is record-breaking independtent test results for QFabric, the company’s single layer data center architecture. But what does it really show?

Conducted by Network Test, the trial strung together 1,536 10Gigabit Ethernet ports and simulated data centre and cloud traffic to show QFabric can handle massive amounts of data without a performance hit.

 “The test provided the value and robustness of QFabric architecture,” Kishore Inampudi, Juniper’s senior product marketing manger for data centres told me on Tuesday. “We were able to achieve consistent performance at large scale,”.

The report is just part of the war of words being waged by Cisco Systems Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Brocade Communications Systems, Avaya Inc. and others who are fighting to persuade IT managers their solution for converging data centre architectures is the best. QFabric was announced just over a year ago, while switches to support it started being released in September.

Along with Juniper, most competitors started releasing data centre fabric solutions – which collapse the number of layers in the data centre from three to two or one, depending on the vendor — last year, following Cisco. So the fact is fabrics are new technology with few case studies. That’s why equipment makers are eager to show some evidence their solution has legs.

The fact is also Juniper wouldn’t have publicly released a test if QFabric hadn’t passed it. Juniper says QFabric can scale up to 6,144 10GbE ports.

“Test like this are useful in that it gives and you an idea what these tech. products can do,” said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research, told me, “but they are engineered by tech vendors. People do have to look at it through that lens.”

The only way an IT department can determine if one company’s fabric outperforms another it to test it in their own environment, he said.

That Juniper [Nasdaq: JNPR] doesn’t have a case study or a customer willing to talk – including Bell Canada, an early adopter — is an indicator of how young the technology is.

Performance studies are fine, Kerravala adds, but he’d really like to learn how easy it is for an enterprise to migrate to a fabric architecture and interoperate with existing gear.

Me, too.

(You can download the Network Test report here)


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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