Comparing Cisco vs Juniper Routers

Cisco and Juniper routers are broken into several different series that are designed for specific networking environments. Both companies supply edge and core routers that are available in fixed and modular setups that support a variety of port configurations, speeds, and optics.

Comparing Cisco vs Juniper Switches

There are some fundamental characteristics that Cisco and Juniper routers have in common, but a Cisco vs Juniper router comparison highlights a few key differences. The mechanics of the two suppliers’ modular systems are different, for example. A closer look also shows that Cisco and Juniper routers support different optical transceiver form factors.

One of our goals at BrightStar Systems is to provide information on our products that will enable you to make informed purchasing decisions. This Cisco versus Juniper router comparison below will help you determine which products best fit your needs.

Cisco and Juniper Routers Span the Entire Spectrum of Networking Applications

Identifying some of the key features of Cisco and Juniper routers will make it easier to compare Cisco vs Juniper routers and their technical data points.

Cisco Routers

Cisco’s line of routers spans many series, covering nearly every possible networking environment and use. Cisco supplies routers for small businesses, branch offices, enterprises, data centers, industrial settings and service providers.

Cisco’s routers range between 1 RU (rack unit) and full-rack heights. The high-end models, such as the routers in the ASR 9000 Series, support 100G Ethernet speeds. Some of Cisco’s modular router models are designed as fully customizable chassis, which allows for greater scalability. The ASR 1000 Series and the ASR 9000 Series are prime examples of this. Our Cisco vs Juniper router comparison will pinpoint some of the main differences between Cisco and Juniper modular routers.

Juniper Routers

The bulk of Juniper’s routers fall under its MX Series, which covers enterprise, data center, and service provider networking environments. Juniper also supplies series designed for more specific networking environments, such as industrial settings. BrightStar Systems also supplies used end-of-life Juniper router series, including the M Series, the J Series, and the E Series.

Juniper’s routers range in size from 1 RU all the way up to full-rack heights, and the higher-end models, such as the MX2008, the MX2010, and the MX2020 models, support up to 100G Ethernet. Some Juniper routers are also available as chassis, which provides flexible port configurations and extra room for additional modules in the future.

To see how Cisco’s high-end routers compare with Juniper’s most powerful routing hardware, check out our Juniper MX vs Cisco ASR routers page.

The Cisco vs Juniper router comparison below provides more detailed information on how each company’s routers differ and points out several key contrasts to help you with your router purchases.

If you’re still in the research phase, be sure to check out the in-depth used network equipment buying guide we put together, which explains every step in the purchasing process.

Cisco Versus Juniper Router Comparison: Overview

A direct Cisco vs Juniper router comparison shows that both Cisco and Juniper routers are designed to be linked to networking hardware made by the same company. That means using Cisco routers with Cisco switches and Juniper routers with Juniper switches will help you avoid most major compatibility issues. There are three main aspects to consider in order to properly compare Cisco and Juniper routers.

  • Impact of Market Share. One thing highlighted by a Cisco and Juniper router comparison is the fact that Cisco has a larger share of the overall router market. Because of that, there are more certified Cisco service engineers and more online support resources compared with Juniper for troubleshooting hardware issues.
  • Two Different Modular Configuration Architectures. Comparing Cisco vs Juniper routers also shows that although modular Cisco and Juniper routers both have mechanisms for customizing port configurations and modules, the systems are very different. Cisco uses line cards, which are inserted directly into the router chassis, compared with Juniper routers, which use a multi-layered system involving Modular Port Concentrators (MPC) and Modular Interface Cards (MIC). In a Juniper router chassis, the MPC goes into the chassis, and then multiple MICs are inserted into the MPC.
  • Optical Transceiver Form Factors. Another key distinction pointed out by a Cisco vs Juniper router comparison is that Cisco has it’s own proprietary CPAK optical transceiver form factor, which supports up to 100G Ethernet. Although Juniper’s routers support a combination of optical transceivers that support 100G Ethernet, including, CFP, CFP2, and QSFP28, they are not compatible with CPAK optics.

Comparing CPAK optics to other optical transceivers shows there are advantages and disadvantages to various 100G Ethernet form factors. Optical transceivers in a QSFP28 form factor, for example, are extremely small and have really low power consumption, but have limited channel configuration options. Cisco’s CPAK optical transceivers support a few different channel setups, but they are slightly larger and consume more power than QSFP28 optical transceivers.

Comparing Cisco vs Juniper Routers: Recap

This Cisco vs Juniper router comparison identifies several key differences between Cisco and Juniper routers, but the router selection that’s right for you depends totally on what your needs are. Below is more information about Cisco and Juniper switches, which will help support the Cisco vs Juniper router comparison.

Cisco and Juniper Router Contrasts Carry Over to Network Switches

Cisco switches

The differences that were identified in the Cisco versus Juniper router comparison will make more sense after looking at a Juniper vs Cisco switch comparison.

Two of Cisco’s most prominent lines of switches are the Nexus 9000 Series and the Catalyst 2960-X/XR Series. The Nexus 9000 Series includes Cisco’s best-performing switches. Nexus 9000 switches are designed primarily for large-scale data centers.

Cisco’s Catalyst 2960-X/XR Series is available in two configurations, the Catalyst 2960-X and the Catalyst 2960-XR, and it’s one of Cisco’s best-selling switches. Both the 2960-X and the 2060-XR can be purchased with 24 or 48 1G Ethernet ports.

Juniper Switches

Two of Juniper’s most high-performing switch series are the EX Series and the QFX Series. The Juniper EX Series is made up of nine subseries of switches, most of which are access- and aggregate-level switches. There is only one core Ethernet switch subseries, but it’s available in three different chassis.

The QFX Series includes only three subseries of switches, the QFX5100, the QFX5200 and the QFX10000. These switches are capable of very high speeds and dense port configurations, which makes them best suited for large enterprise and service provider networks.

Compare Juniper vs Cisco Switches

Going off of the Cisco vs Juniper router comparison, Cisco and Juniper switches share many of the same differences as Cisco and Juniper routers.

Just like with the Cisco and Juniper routers, CPAK optical transceivers are exclusive to Cisco switches. Juniper switches are compatible with several other optical transceiver form factors, but cannot be used with CPAK hardware. Cisco also has a major share of the world’s switch market, just as it does the router market.

One distinction that does not fall in line with the Cisco vs Juniper router comparison is that Cisco offers a more diverse selection of switches than Juniper. Juniper’s switches meet the needs of enterprise, data center and service provider networks But comparing Juniper’s to Cisco’s switches shows that Cisco offers switches for all applications, in addition to industrial networks and some other niche applications. In general, Cisco offers a greater variety of switches.