The Juniper MX960 is our new router. But, it’s not like your Netgear, Dlink or Zyxel routers that you probably have in your homes (although ironically the principle that those home routers have is essentially the same as what our Juniper MX960 does).
In basic terms a router “routes” traffic: in your homes that means your router routes traffic in and out of the network into your home – usually your internal networks run something called NAT (network address translation) which means that if your home router has a public IP address on its “outside”, internally you have a private network on the “inside”.
Real world example
Virgin Media (my home) gives me a single public IP address of 220.127.116.11 (changed obviously) but my internal network runs on 192.168.0.1 meaning that NAT lets me use a lot of IPs inside my personal network that all run on one public IP address.
How does this translate to our MX960 then?
Well, essentially it does the same job but on a slightly* bigger scale. Where your home router has ONE connection to the outside world, the Juniper MX960 can handle multiple connections to the outside world, from multiple suppliers. It’s also capable of routing the real IP addresses through itself to our customer and in-house networks. Our customers’ and internal networks require real IP addresses, as one of the limitations of NAT is that it’s a bit, well, limited…
We also use multiple bandwidth suppliers which we plug into our edge routers, and when we do so, we run a protocol called BGP, which stands for Border Gateway Protocol. Again, essentially this enables us to route the traffic to and from our network in the most cost or efficient routes by selecting the best route to send the traffic down. Bandwidth suppliers have costs associated with them, and so sending UK traffic over NTT or Level3 would be a bit pointless if you can send it over LINX which is a peered connection.
My favourite part: the Juniper MX960 hardware.
What does an expensive Juniper MX960 do that your home router can’t? Well, in one word: availability. Where your home router has one power supply, the MX960 has four, and can run on one if necessary.
And where your home router has one “control interface” if you can call it that, the MX960 has two separate control blade cards – which run together in failover mode, meaning if one dies, the other one continues to run operations.
Additionally, where your home router has 4 or maybe even 8 ports for plugging home devices in like Xboxes, PS4s or computers, the MX960 has 12 slots *plus* two for the control blades.
Each slot on the Juniper MX960 can be home to 40 ports of cat5 copper cable or SFP modules with fibre. Alternatively you can, if you wanted to, buy 40gig and 100gig interfaces for the slots, but as you can imagine they’re quite pricey as they’re fast. We might be tempted into buying just one or two though….
And, whilst we’re here, let me tell you about speed. A quick look at the specs of a Juniper MX960 on their website tells you all you need to know: the headline figures are that that it provides 5.4 Terabits of system capacity. Quite a lot. Each slot on the chassis carries a throughput of 240 gigabits, which we hope should carry a portion of the network for a while to come.
Why do we need all this hardware and power?
At some point in the future, our existing routers (Juniper MX240s and MX80s) are going to become bottlenecks, not necessarily the edge bandwidth but certainly things like internal connectivity or QOS throughput could become problematic. So it’s a continual upgrade path for us to make sure that our networks have enough capacity to run effectively and with plenty of capacity no matter what happens. We have been fortunate enough to have received a few DDOS attacks over the last couple of years which push a significant amount of traffic over the network – of which the edge routers take the initial hit, so ensuring there is sensible capacity at the edge is a sensible thing to do even though these things are slightly expensive to put in.
I hope that’s given you an overview of what we do here, if you have any questions about our network or the services we provide, please contact me email@example.com or any of the sales team for a chat on 020 3468 7000 – we’re always around to chat.
* when I say slightly, I mean by factors of X, then add a few zeroes!