Juniper buys SDN startup for $176M

Juniper Networks this week acquired Contrail Systems, a startup that makes controllers for software-defined networks, for $176 million in cash and stock.

Contrail was founded early this year by officials from Google, Cisco, Juniper and Aruba. CEO Ankur Singla served as CTO and vice president of engineering at Aruba Networks. CTO Kireeti Kompella had been CTO and Chief Architect of the Junos operating system software at Juniper. Kompella authored several Internet drafts and RFCs on MPLS, IS-IS routing, Layer 2 VPNs, OSPF and traffic engineering.

Juniper was a strategic investor in Contrail earlier this year.  Contrail closed a $10 million round of funding in July, led by Khosla Ventures.

The company had been in stealth mode and expected to release its product, a distributed controller that supports both BGP and XMPP, next year.

Juniper, meanwhile, was on the hunt for an SDN controller. Earlier this year, Executive Vice President Bob Muglia said Juniper is working with other industry players on an open source-based controller for SDNs that would be an alternative to proprietary offerings from VMware and Cisco.

It appears its found a controller, if not the controller.

We recognized the inherent advantages of Contrail Systems architectural approach and we are excited to take this next step to acquire and combine Contrail Systems into our team, Muglia wrote in a blog announcing the acquisition. We anticipate closing before the end of the year.

A Juniper spokeperson said the company would not make company executives available to elaborate on the purchase or Junipers overall SDN strategy. Juniper has been largely silent on an SDN strategy while rivals Cisco, Brocade and Arista have articulated broad plans.

The spokesperson said Juniper would divulge its SDN strategy early next year.

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 25 years, 21 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog  and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy.

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