As a technology analyst, I spend considerable time with connectivity service providers and infrastructure companies that supply the hardware and software that run next-generation private and public networks. For these companies, lab testing and validation is a critical endeavor to ensure interoperability, compatibility, scalability and high availability, but it can also play a role in incubating compelling new applications and use cases. I have visited labs and test ranges worldwide, including AT&T Labs in Israel, Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s test and reliability facility in Roseville, California and Nokia’s massive radio frequency testing chamber in Espoo, Finland. I recently spent time with Juniper Networks and its Beyond Labs team to learn more about its mission and investigations, and I would like to share what I find compelling about its efforts.
Beyond Labs mission
Juniper unveiled Beyond Labs in May of this year. Its stated mission is to shape the future of networking and IT industries with pioneering research, pathfinding projects and experimental technology developments. Those are bold objectives, and to achieve its research goals, Juniper is wisely partnering with academic institutions, including the University of California, Purdue and Stanford, and stalwart technology companies, including Dell Technologies, IBM, Intel, Nvidia and others. One could argue that there is some degree of competitive overlap with the latter, but this often occurs in the tech world, as evidenced by open-source initiatives such as the Data Plane Development Kit (DPDK) that aims to accelerate packet processing workloads across a large swath of CPU architectures. I like Juniper’s research approach, given that it brings together public and private stakeholders, leveraging combined budgets and diverse resources.
Beyond Labs’ pathfinding project scope enhances and accelerates a minimum viable product (MVP) approach made famous within Silicon Valley startups through the introduction of a minimum viable demo (MVD) for faster validation. Juniper defines four critical stages—ideation, incubation, go/no-go and productization—as its milestones. Initial engagement is also crucial, and Juniper plans to use its executive briefing centers in California, Massachusetts and India, as well as demos at industry events, to fill its engagement funnel with investigations and proof of concept evaluations. It’s an intelligent approach that should identify innovation opportunities and employ a “fail fast” philosophy to root out the less compelling ideas.