Juniper CEO: Innovation Trumps Market Uncertainty To Drive Partner Success


As we've talked to a number of Juniper partners both here at the show and in general, there's a lot of focus on your recent security challenges, from the Magic Quadrant firewalls downgrade to some of the things Bob [Muglia, executive vice president, software solutions] and Stefan [Dyckerhoff, executive vice president, platform systems] acknowledged from the stage about SRX. How do you get these things back on track?

I think the team has done a very good job of transitioning to the SRX and really hardening some of the features customers asked us to build into the SRX. The place you need to look at is the thought leadership agenda. Security is a very dynamic marketplace; we did the acquisition of Altor [in 2010] and the virtual gateway software we gained can secure servers in the VMware hypervisor. I think that's a big opportunity. The fact that we have Junos Pulse on these end devices and the fact that Junos Pulse can create value by the unique features we have. I think you'll see Bob and Nawaf [Bitar, senior vice president], who now leads the security business unit, be more vocal about this next thought leadership agenda they're driving in the domain of security.

The firewalls question comes up a lot, and now you have vendors such as Palo Alto Networks and F5 Networks very publicly challenging Juniper as a security vendor and talking up customer wins displacing Juniper firewalls. What is that competitive threat, in your eyes?

In the domain of security, there are lots and lots of very small companies focused on niches within security, and I think that's because the security threat landscape continues to evolve. The bad actors invent some new way to launch an attack and a new company comes up with a thesis or theory about how they can defend against that attack. And so you have a very fragmented industry with lots of players, and in a way, that's good, because you create a broad ecosystem of innovators that are working to protect customers.

At the end of the day, it does create complexity for the customer, however, because they're going to be looking for more of an end-to-end solution. That's our opportunity with the broad footprint of security we have the in the network combined with the broad footprint we now have on the end device with over 35 million enterprise devices protected with Junos Pulse, and with this virtual gateway software. We need to focus on the things we can do broadly from an end-to-end security standpoint, but also recognize that the security market is going to have lots of players focused on different niches.

Juniper is prided for not rushing out products, so why do you think you've had so many challenges with the SRX? That's been universal feedback from partners -- that there have been consistent quality issues with the SRX products.

You think about the evolution from ScreenOS and the NetScreen acquisition and those features that were ported to the SRX, and the SRX, which provides this fantastic scale when it comes to securing the network. With that scale and the features we provided, I think a number of customers asked for a wide range of features that would enable them to do new things, and as those features were shipped I think there was a period we had to go through to harden those with customers. So I think a big part of that was there was such a demand from customers for new features in the SRX and that created a situation that took some time to get the solution hardened in the marketplace.

Is it fair to say you rushed it?

I don't think so. Looking back, there are things we could have done differently. Maybe we rushed too many features at once, but I don't think we rushed the product. In the spirit of trying to respond to customer needs, I think we were doing all the right things and perhaps we could have done some things to sequence those features in different ways.

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