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Juniper automates network risk reporting, offers on-call tech support

Juniper Networks takes on Cisco Systems with a technology-and-services package that includes automatic network risk reporting and identifies solutions before disaster strikes.

Network transparency and network risk reduction are becoming checklist features from networking vendors. So Juniper Networks is tying a package of support services to intelligence in its JUNOS 9.0 operating system. The new release can identify potential network risks and deliver the information to the customer, according to the vendor.

The Advanced Insight Solutions (AIS) program sends network risk alerts directly to the enterprise customer or to the appropriate channel partner so changes can be made before disaster occurs. One of the services tied to the reporting will let value-added resellers (VARs) or customers call a Juniper engineer for high-priority problems and immediate resolution.

"Five-nines reliability is no longer enough," said Brad Kashani, senior vice president of customer services at Juniper.

The most interesting part of the AIS strategy is that the network risk information collected is also sent to the Juniper Networks Technical Assistance Center (JTAC), where problems with various configurations or software, as well as solutions to those problems, are compiled into a database. The larger the database grows, the more quickly solutions can be identified and doled out to the partner and customer. This "codified knowledge base" will eventually be applied to almost any customer problem, Kashani said.

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"We find a particular issue that might be a software issue or configuration issue, and rather than just solving one customer's problem at that time in that environment, we look at the issue and wonder if it impacts other customers," Kashani said. "Then we correlate this information with the information that we have about all customers that have this service and their configurations and hardware and software." He said that if other customers will be affected, the system sends them notifications of the risk.

As part of AIS, three new technical services will be available beginning this week. One is J-Care Efficiency Services, which will send automated information on the network and its devices to customers and partners; J-Care Continuity Services, which will include immediate access to Juniper engineers for high-priority issues; and J-Care Agility Services, which will combine AIS with personal consultative services. Partners can incorporate all of this into their own services for their customers.

Juniper basically had to make this kind of a play to take on Cisco Systems, which has similar network risk reporting and a call-in feature.

"This is a good step to make a run at Cisco," said Yankee Group analyst Phil Hochmuth. Cisco is known to have universally solid technical support, he said, while Juniper "doesn't have the track record." Cisco has had the "call-home feature" for more than a year.

Still, Juniper may have a leg up.

"Cisco only has [automatic network risk reporting] on a few platforms, and it sounds like Juniper has it on all of its JUNOS [equipment]," Hochmuth said. In fact, JUNOS supports almost all of Juniper's equipment, so the reporting is meant to work from all network components alike.

The kind of network risk information produced will enable channel partners to step in with redesign services and possibly additional equipment sales to fix a problem and maintain long-term support relationships with customers.

"By automating event resolution and enabling preventative measures to minimize potential disruptions, these new service offerings will enable Juniper J-Partners to help their customers make the most of their network infrastructure," said Joe Soricelli, director of engineering for Juniper partner iPath Technologies, a Solunet company.

Among the problems that could be detected are a lack of scaleable capacity for additional applications and security risks on virtual private networks (VPNs.)

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