Tech Corner

Cisco Catalyst 8000 Series Edge Platforms vs Juniper SSR 100 Series

Connection to the cloud has transformed network traffic flow immensely. However, traditional wide area networks (WANs) are not automated, lack visibility, and are too complex and inflexible to be used for cloud applications.

Additionally, using legacy WAN architectures to migrate to faster connectivity, expand to offer new network services, and add new cloud applications substantially increases costs and downtime. It also compromises security.


These challenges with legacy WANs necessitated the design of the software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN), a modern network that is application-aware, adaptable, and scalable to meet varying bandwidth demands. Network automation, increased flexibility, and consistent endpoint configurations are some of the advantages of the SD-WAN that make it alluring to enterprises.

The virtualized network overlays networking hardware, including SD-WAN routers and controllers. Two of the most popular SD-WAN solutions providers are Cisco and Juniper Networks. Cisco offers the popular Catalyst 8000 SD-WAN edge platforms, while Juniper offers an AI-driven SD-WAN solution that includes the Session Smart Router (SSR) 100.

This article will comprehensively explain the Cisco Catalyst 8000 Edge platforms and compare them to the Juniper SSR 100 routers.

View our other Cisco Catalyst comparison guides for more information on other models:

Cisco SD-WAN Overview

The Cisco SD-WAN solution offers a secure connection to cloud-based applications. One of the greatest advantages of Cisco's SD-WAN solution is that it can be overlayed on multiple network transport systems, including the internet, broadband, and MPLS.

Cisco's SD-WAN solution components include:

  • Routing Technology: Cisco's software-defined network runs on any of Cisco's physical or virtual routers that were designed to support it. The most common physical and virtual routers of choice are Cisco Catalyst 8000 Edge platforms and Cisco vEdge cloud routers.
  • Centralized Controllers: The Cisco software-defined network can be managed centrally using Cisco's centralized controllers. The controllers manage the network overlay's maintenance, security, and provisioning tasks.
  • Cisco vManage: This is the network's management server. It is highly intuitive and simplifies network operations. With this component, you have the power of configuration, analytics, monitoring, maintenance, and troubleshooting, among other management tasks across the entire SD-WAN fabric.
  • Open Programmability: The SD-WAN's programmability increases visibility by enabling network administrators to acquire the network's critical data. They can then analyze the data to gain insights.
  • Integrated Security: Cisco's SD-WAN solution offers real-time threat protection both on-premises and in the cloud.

Cisco SD-WAN Overview

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The Scalable Cloud-Enhanced Cisco Catalyst 8000 Edge Platforms

Cisco Catalyst 8000 Edge Platforms are a popular choice among enterprises that need an agile SD-WAN solution. They offer the high performance, increased security, and visibility that the enterprises require as they scale their networks to offer and benefit from more modern network services and applications.

Cisco Catalyst 8000 Edge platforms have a scalable bandwidth that can support the soaring demands caused by digitization. Another advantageous feature is that they offer real-time telemetry. This increases the network's visibility, making it easy to monitor and control.

The key capabilities and benefits of these edge platforms include:

  • Cisco Analytics and Increased Visibility: The Cisco SD-WAN architecture offers the Cisco vAnalytics and Cisco ThousandEyes features. The analytics feature conducts health checks on the network and assesses the network's performance to come up with actionable insights. The ThousandEyes feature increases network visibility, making it easier to manage.
  • Business-First Resilience: The enhanced flexibility coupled with end-to-end analytics makes it easy for enterprises to adopt new networking technologies and trends such as 5G.
  • Scalability: With the advent of the cloud, data flow has become increasingly varied. Hence, the demand for bandwidth has also become more dynamic. Cisco Catalyst 8000 series routers can scale to meet modern bandwidth needs.
  • Multiple WAN Link Options: When using these Catalyst 8000 edge platforms, you will have unlimited WAN link options. You could use the internet, broadband, or MPLS. The platforms can also support LTE and are 5G ready.
  • Automation: One of the greatest advantages of using Cisco's SD-WAN solution is that it simplifies operations, freeing the network administrators to carry out other revenue-generating activities.

Cisco 8000 Edge Platform Family


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Cisco Catalyst 8000 Series Edge Platform Models

Cisco Catalyst 8000 models include Catalyst 8000V (software), Catalyst 8200 series, Catalyst 8300 series, and the Catalyst 8500 series. The Catalyst 8000V is a software deployable in the cloud, data center, colocation, MSP, and company branches.

The Catalyst 8200 series routers can be deployed to small and medium branches, while the Catalyst 8300 series routers are designed for large branches. Finally, the Catalyst 8500 series routers are deployable on the edge and WAN aggregation sites.

The table below shows a comparison between the router specifications.

Comparison between the Cisco Catalyst 8000 Models

Juniper Networks SD-WAN Overview

Juniper Networks also provides an SD-WAN solution. Their SD-WAN is automated and powered by artificial intelligence (Mist AI). It also provides a connection to the cloud (Juniper Mist Cloud). The following are products and services that make SD-WAN deployment by Juniper Networks possible:

  • Session Smart Routers (SSR): This powerful software-defined router from Juniper Networks promises high availability, high performance, increased security, and an application-aware network fabric for its users. It is also deployable as software on Customer Premises Equipment (CPE), data center network servers, and the cloud.
  • WAN Assurance: This cloud service is vital to Juniper's SD-WAN solution. It increases network visibility and SD-WAN repair time. It also enables automation. Network administrators can use Juniper's WAN Assurance to extract and analyze the network's telemetry data. Additionally, this cloud service simplifies router configuration and gives vital health insights about the routers, the gateway, and existing WAN links.
  • SRX Series Gateways: These gateways were designed to protect the network's components, including the data center, network edge, and existing applications. They can be either physical, container, or virtual firewalls.
  • NFX Series Network Services Platform: This is a flexible CPE platform family included in Juniper's SD-WAN solution that enables the deployment of SD-WAN and the delivery of other network services. You can use it to deploy virtual network functions (VNFs), WAN connectivity, and x86 applications.

The High-Performance Juniper Session Smart Router (SSR)

The following are the most notable capabilities of the Juniper session smart router:

  • Application-Aware Routing: The session-smart router can maintain information concerning all the applications that are connected to it.
  • Scalability: Some of the effects of digitization are the exponential increase in network traffic and dynamic data flow. Juniper SSR 100 routers have a flexible bandwidth that can scale in real-time to meet changing demands.
  • Zero-Trust Security: Juniper SSR 100 series routers create a session-aware network fabric that provides zero-trust access control integrated with Secure Vector Routing (SVR). Juniper SD-WAN also has simple deny-by-default access policies to enhance security further.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: With up to 75% reduction in head-end infrastructure costs and up to 50% reduction in bandwidth costs, SSR 100 routers are one of the most cost-effective SD-WAN solution options currently available on the market.
  • Centralized Management: You can manage the Juniper SSR centrally using the Mist Cloud powered by Mist AI or the session smart conductor platform.
  • Multiple WAN Link Options: With the Juniper SSR 100 series of routers, you can choose from multiple WAN link options, including LTE and 5G.

Juniper SD-WAN solution with Session Smart Router Overview

Juniper Session Smart Router (SSR) 100 Models

There are two SSR 100 models currently available, namely, SSR 120 and SSR 130. The Juniper SSR 120 is designed for small branches, while the SSR 130 is designed for medium-sized branches. The table below summarizes the model specifications.

Summary of the Juniper SSR Models

Get Your SD-WAN Network Up and Running

In summary, SD-WAN is a modern application-aware, adaptable, and scalable network designed to overcome some disadvantages of legacy networks. Its advantages include network automation, increased flexibility, and consistent endpoint configurations.

Cisco Catalyst 8000 series edge platforms and Juniper SSR 100 series routers are two groups of routers that are most commonly selected to support the SD-WAN software.

The key capabilities and advantages of the Cisco Catalyst 8000 series edge platforms include:

  • Increased visibility
  • Business-first resilience
  • Scalability
  • Multiple WAN link options
  • Automation
  • Centralized management
  • Integrated security

On the other hand, the most notable features and benefits of the SSR 100 routers include:

  • Application-aware routing
  • Flexibility
  • Zero-trust security
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Centralized management
  • Multiple WAN link options

Are you still wondering which router would best suit your network? Speak to one of our sales engineers to clear things up.

Additionally, PivIT offers SmartHands as part of its EXTEND product. Gain access to engineers around the globe to help build your wired and wireless networks without ever leaving your desk when you are tackling staff shortages, complex environments, office relocations, or emergency situations.

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