MWC18: Juniper Expands its “Bots” Portfolio with the Contrail Slicing Bot, Helping to Automate More Complexity

Glen Hunt – Principal Analyst

Summary Bullets:

Automates Complex Network Slicing Process: The Contrail Network Slicing Bot aims to simplify the highly complex process of defining, creating, provisioning and managing network slicing across both physical and virtual infrastructures. Network slicing is a fundamental tenet of all 5G architectures.

Addresses Skill Set Shortage: Juniper’s network Bots, including the Slicing Bot, help alleviate the lack of internal staff education and higher level skillsets required to use network automation tools, which are often complex and require deep network knowledge. The Slicing Bot uses a high level human friendly language to translate operator intent into actionable workflows.

Juniper’s “Slicing Bot” launch enables operators to leverage technologies such as machine learning, network telemetry and SDN control, to help reduce the complexity they face as they attempt to deploy virtual networks to meet the growing demand for faster time-to-service. The new Contrail Slicing Bot joins three other Bots, which the company launched in December 2017. The Bots enable operators to operate at a business level (i.e., intent) to help automate complex network functions that are often error prone and time consuming due to manual processes and the lack of operational skills. The three initial Bot applications offered by Juniper included PeerBot, TestBot and HealthBot, which address key pain points for operators; the new Slicing Bot tackles the highly complex, but essential process of carving up the network into virtual slices, a fundamental building block for supporting 5G services.
The launch supports Juniper’s stated priorities of simplifying networks operations through automation to promote deployment and to demonstrate the effectiveness of its innovation engine. Network, cloud, and enterprise operators are all faced with a growing need to deploy new network capabilities and expand existing network connectivity, all the while reducing time-to-service and lowering operational costs in terms of both network and staff resources. The capabilities provided by Juniper’s Bots clearly helps abstract the inherent network complexities and provide users with the ability to create services based on business rules, rather than dealing with network protocols and configuration files. Operators have expressed the need for greater automation, and the Bots help move the needle in that direction. The market need is clear, but Juniper is not alone in addressing this need, as competitors are also adding similar capabilities based in their SDN platforms and acquired analytics technologies.

Automating network functions is quickly gaining ground as the preferred way to manage evolving complex networks which can improve time to service and ease staff resource constraints. However; the underlying technology that translates machine-to-human interactions is still in its infancy, with processes that aren’t necessarily intuitive or natural. As such, this represents an area where additional learning and user experiences will be required before the products are widely deployed. The emergence of 5G mobile technology and tools to manage it are a clear focus of this year’s GSMA Mobile World Congress being held in Barcelona, Spain, February 26 through March 1, 2018. There are eight themes for this year’s event; this report addresses “Applied AI”.

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