A networking industry exec has challenged Juniper to post its operating system source code on the Internet, and stop hiding behind legalese and paperwork.
Dave Roberts, strategy VP at open-source router firm Vyatta, said Juniper's claim that it is opening JUNOS to third-parties is "full of bunk" and is "simply big companies being 'open' with other big companies and then putting out press releases."
He added, "Am I supposed to believe Juniper and Avaya weren't going to partner anyway? We applaud Juniper for going making moves in this direction, but I, as an individual, can't simply download the Juniper PSDP (partner solution development platform) and start writing code.
"Rather, I have to approach Juniper, convince them that I'm worthy to be in the program, sign some contracts and then pay them an annual licence fee. This sounds little different from what I would have done if I had wanted access to Juniper's system before this announcement."
He said that Vyatta published its own operating system code on the web two years ago, allowing anyone to download it and start working on router-hosted applications within minutes.
Juniper's European service provider marketing director Paul Gainham admitted that the scheme is by invitation only, arguing that this "ensures security and control." He said that in a modular carrier-class router, it is important to include security and performance safeguards.
"PSDP's design includes multiple layers of business and technical protection," he said. "Routers run only the applications you choose, none by default."
Gainham claimed that PSDP would accelerate innovation by allowing software developers and service providers to come up with new applications running on the router itself. He said that those might include SLA monitoring, custom security services such as intrusion detection, service gateways, and traffic management.
In a paper written for Juniper, IDC analyst Eve Griliches agreed, saying that what was important was the secure environment that JUNOS would provide. She said that several companies were already working with PSDP, including content and service providers, and system integrators.
"What's great about this flexibility is that multiple PSDP applications can be uploaded, they can talk to each other, talk to other Juniper routers and products as well as network servers," she said.
"For example, if a financial institution wants to better control the latency of its transactions and control the traffic to its servers in general, they can create a custom application to best fit their needs in a secure environment, where the data remains on the servers, but where now the router helps control the traffic in a custom fashion, specific to their needs."
Roberts agreed that the ability to run applications on the router itself, not merely on a services blade, is a key step forward. "It is the ability to look into the fundamental mechanics of the router, it's much tighter integration than a blade will give you - with this you can really get into what's going on," he said.
However, he argued that Juniper's approach - which includes the use of FreeBSD, a derivative of Unix that does not require developers to open-source what they do with it - is actually a closed-source model.
"The idea is Juniper asserts control, so things are more secure, but that stifles innovation. It would be better to be open, with a certification programme so customers can tell how reliable an application is," he said.
He added though that Juniper was right to say that Cisco - which has announced plans to open IOS up to third-party applications - cannot do the same thing yet. Cisco still has to 'componentise' IOS and move it onto a Unix-based kernel, according to its senior VP Alan Baratz.