Juniper Networks acquires datacenter network automation startup Apstra
December 7, 2020
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Juniper Networks today announced it has agreed to acquire Menlo Park-based Apstra, an intent-based networking and automated closed-loop assistance startup, for an undisclosed sum. Juniper says the purchase will add to its portfolio of solutions, which include switching platforms with a cloud-native routing stack.

The datacenter automation segment is expected to rise from $3.16 billion in 2014 to $7.53 billion in 2019, according to a Markets and Markets report. Gartner predicts that by 2023, 60% of datacenter networking configuration activities will be automated, up from 30% in early 2020.

With the Apstra deal, the terms of which weren’t disclosed, Juniper gains a valuable asset in a competitive segment. “Datacenter teams from large Fortune 100 enterprises to mid-sized companies to global service providers currently use Apstra’s software to not only define how the datacenter should behave but continuously provide assurances that the network operations and experiences match that intent,” Juniper CPO Manoj Leelanivas wrote in a blog post. “Further, they use Apstra to quickly respond to dynamic workload needs and service requests.”

Six-year-old Apstra enables network automation by leveraging an open, multi-vendor architecture that’s designed to work with — and complement — Juniper’s datacenter products based on the Junos operating system for networking. But the Apstra solution does more than automate basic operations. Architects can describe how the datacenter should behave in terms of outcomes, and the system implements and assures that the network workloads and experience match the intent. These capabilities — along with self-service delivery, automated root cause identification, and remediation — help Apstra stand apart in providing proactive insights, according to cofounder and CEO David Cheriton.

“The objective [with Apstra] was to create a software solution to abstract the complexity and provide powerful automation and validation capabilities for datacenter networks,” Cheriton said in a statement. He will join Juniper as chief datacenter scientist once the acquisition is completed. “Apstra’s approach has delivered substantial and quantifiable benefits to our diverse set of customers, from leading enterprises like Accenture, Bloomberg, and Yahoo Japan to two of the largest global service providers to customers in the mid-market. We have enabled them to find ‘needle in haystack problems,’ like a few mis-cabled ports across 10,000 devices and bad fiber links that were debilitating the datacenter.”

Juniper doesn’t expect the acquisition to materially impact its revenue in 2021. It’s the Sunnyvale, California-based company’s first acquisition since 2019, when it snatched up Mist Systems, an AI-driven WLAN startup. Prior to that, Juniper bought software-defined enterprise multicloud firm HTBase in 2018 and security analytics company Cyphort in 2017.

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