What is our primary use case?
I did one of the projects with a company that purchased the original micro-fabric design, which had two director nodes. It was for InterConneX, and I believe it had 16 link nodes. They had InterConneX between two main locations of their data centers. They used dark fiber with an MPLS network for the backbone, and then they used the QFabric interlinks to be able to basically send their data center layer to the fabric across those MPLS links. QFabric that I've been dealing with for one of my customers is on code 17.
What is most valuable?
The 40 gig backbone InterConneX was valuable for our use case. It is even faster now. QFabric has spine-leaf technology or topology, which basically makes every single hop only one hop away in terms of connecting from one device to another.
It is a pretty good and robust solution. It works pretty well in terms of scalability, and their technical support is amazing.
What needs improvement?
They are working on the virtualization of the actual fabric layer. They are moving away from the original spine-leaf design to a different infrastructure. Instead of having three tiers, which was the director of the interconnected nodes, they cut them back, and they still have that kind of structure.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have been using this solution since its inception in 2013.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
Stability has been pretty good. There were tripping points over the years, especially because they were among the first ones to introduce a full fabric infrastructure, but they have learned from that. The one that I have used with the 10K series was hands down. It was one of the better fabrics that I have ever used.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
It works pretty well in terms of scalability. It goes through 128 nodes with 48 ports a piece. We're talking about 400,000. If you actually upgrade it to a full class infrastructure, instead of just QFabric, it can go up to almost indefinite nodes.
How are customer service and technical support?
I've dealt with J-Tech a lot. J-Tech is amazing. They're quick on the ball. If you've got issues, they're quick to escalate. I've never really seen a major issue that they haven't been able to solve. Of course, there have been hardware issues every now and then, but this is not just for QFabric. This is across their entire infrastructure.
How was the initial setup?
It was rather complex when I built one up as a POC a while ago. In 2019, I played with the new design using the 10K series, and that one was much easier to set up. They have their own special setup that can detect what is connected. When you apply, you only apply to one controller, and the controller sends everything down the pipe, which is really nice.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
In terms of price, the QFabric solution is going to be probably in the middle of the road for a fabric solution.
What other advice do I have?
Make sure that you're aware of what you're going to be putting in. It can be tricky at times to understand the architecture, but once you do, it is going to ease your administration a lot because it is a virtual chassis or a virtual fabric. However, you might want to look into maybe only using it as the physical infrastructure of an SD-WAN layer. That way you've got your orchestration that goes on top of it. Typically, that's not what companies do currently, but I think it is a great solution for that physical layer.
I would rate Juniper QFabric about an eight out of ten. It is a pretty good and pretty robust solution.