Cisco vs. Juniper: The Ultimate Guide to Routers
by PivIT Global on Sep 19, 2023 7:02:00 AM
Are you in the market for routers for your network? Chances are you’re contemplating between Cisco and Juniper. Routers qualify as critical equipment today, enabling data transmission across networks in different industries.
Cisco and Juniper are two big names in the world of networking. While Cisco is considered the leader in network equipment, Juniper isn’t far behind. The former is known for its reliable equipment, while the latter is making strides in modern technology with its cloud-ready devices, including routers.
Even if you already have many devices from one of these manufacturers within your network, it shouldn’t be the only reason to choose that company. After all, multi-vendor environments can provide the most robust performance.
So this article will discuss the main differences between the routers from these two OEMs without concentrating on a specific model or series.
Cisco vs. Juniper Routers: Overview
Cisco is a global leader in networking, well-known for its comprehensive range of networking hardware and software solutions. The company dominates the enterprise network equipment market with an extensive presence worldwide.
Cisco routers have a solid reputation for their design. From core to edge routers, Cisco offers several series and pushes out new models yearly.
No matter the application, there’s a Cisco router available for it. For instance, Cisco Catalyst 8300 and 8500 Series routers are popular for Cloud Edge. Similarly, the ASR 1000 Series routers are considered among the best for aggregation use cases.
Juniper Networks is slightly over a decade younger than Cisco, but the brand has become the go-to for modern data centers and other enterprises. Their routers are performance-centric.
Recently, the company has invested significantly in cloud technologies and artificial intelligence. It’s also shifted its focus toward the cloud with its networking equipment. For instance, Juniper’s Cloud Native Router is software-based and ready for applications like IoT and 5G.
Most of your options for routers from Juniper would comprise MX Series Universal Routing Platforms. These are software-defined networking (SDN) enabled routers suitable for various use cases.
For core routing, Juniper offers the much sought-after PTX Series routers ideal for data centers.
Cisco vs. Juniper Routers: Comparison
Both Cisco and Juniper router series include fixed and modular routers. You can easily find a model from each that meets your specific requirements, making things more confusing. So to help you with your decision, here’s a detailed comparison of their routers in different categories.
Cisco and Juniper routers are comparable regarding the technology behind the routers. Both companies provide SD-WAN-ready routers. Similarly, both manufacturers have a series dedicated to cloud networks.
While Cisco’s IOS is feature-rich and scalable, Juniper’s Junos OS is more modular. The latter’s single source-code approach allows consistency across different hardware.
Cisco and Juniper routers support most standard protocols, including BGP, OSPF, and MPLS.
For data centers, the performance of routers is often the deciding factor. While performance varies from model to model, Juniper routers are exceptionally fast. Juniper’s Junos trio chipset-based routing technology allows for very high-speed forwarding. It also offers some advanced features like hierarchical quality of service (QoS) and traffic engineering.
That’s not to say that Cisco isn’t on par in terms of performance. Cisco’s ASR 9000 Series delivers impressive throughput and scalability, making these routers ideal for data centers that experience spikes frequently.
Configuration and Form Factors
Cisco’s modular design provides flexibility for configurations for different use cases, and they can integrate with existing network equipment seamlessly. In addition, their ease of configuration also makes for easy scalability.
Like Cisco, Juniper routers also allow for some customization in configuration, particularly with ports. However, where Cisco routers use line cards, Juniper routers use modular port concentrators and modular interface cards.
There are also some differences in form factors. While both companies make routers ranging from 1 RU to full rack form factors, Cisco also uses CPAK, its proprietary form factor for optical transceivers. These can support up to 100G Ethernet.
Cisco and Juniper, much like most network equipment manufacturers, are putting more and more security features in their devices.
Cisco routers provide security measures such as built-in firewalls, Virtual Private Networks (VPN), Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS), and Access Control Lists (ACLs). Juniper routers also have firewall capabilities, VPN, Network Address Translation (NAT), and unified threat management (UTM).
Compared head to head, Cisco routers may come out on top with their advanced, robust built-in security features.
Cisco used to be cheaper than Juniper, but the price difference has evaporated over the years. Of course, the prices vary greatly depending on the type or series you choose, but generally speaking, Cisco equipment can end up being more expensive with all the bells and whistles. The software licensing fee for Cisco adds up, inflating the overall expenditure.
Lifespan and Support
The lifespan of Cisco and Juniper routers is comparable. They provide support for up to five years after the end of sale (EOS) date. The overall lifespan can range from five to eight years.
Thanks to Cisco’s large market share and leadership in networking, the availability of support is higher. With more Cisco service engineers in every region, finding support for the brand’s equipment is easier.
Juniper offers decent support options, including technical assistance and a large online knowledge base. However, you may not find as many engineers for support for Juniper as you would for Cisco.
How to Choose One OEM?
When deciding between Cisco and Juniper routers, analyze your networking needs and existing infrastructure to make the best choice. Find the criteria that matter the most to you and use that to decide.
For example, consider how routers would fit in with your software-powered network if you're after SD-WAN routers.
In cases where you’re already using equipment or software solutions from one of the brands, it may make sense to stick with it for coherency. However, you don’t want to end up in a vendor lock-in or miss out on valuable features provided by the other brand.
Both brands have pros and cons (arguably more pros than cons). But depending on your use case, one may be a clear winner. Cisco routers are ideal for large-scale deployment across the enterprise. Juniper’s MX and PTX Series are suitable for the core routing needs of data centers.
Remember, Cisco and Juniper routers are known for their performance, security, and reliability. So it may come down to non-technical considerations such as cost or support.
Hardware Procurement With PivIT
Cisco and Juniper are industry leaders, and each brand offers reliable routers with various configuration options and features. No matter which brand and model you choose, allow PivIT to procure your next purchase of routers.
PivIT carries routers and switches from Cisco, Juniper, and other major OEMs. With savings as high as 60%, procurement with PivIT, especially on a large scale, can reduce your capital expenditure significantly. Those savings can be spent on training, maintenance, or acquiring even more advanced equipment for your network.
Still confused between Cisco and Juniper? PivIT’s procurement specialists can help you make the right choice. Discuss your business needs and what you want to achieve with the routers. You’ll receive all the information you need from expert engineers who understand the features and feasibility of different routers.
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