HPE’s Juniper Acquisition Could ‘Be Bigger Than HPE Is Imagining,’ Partners Say
While the combination of HPE and Juniper Networks will birth a new AI-powered networking giant with a strong wireless and data center story for enterprise customers, the success of the $14 billion deal will be heavily dependent on the integration between HPE, HPE Aruba and Juniper, partners tell CRN.
The $14 billion megadeal unveiled Tuesday that has Hewlett Packard Enterprise acquiring Juniper Networks underscores the increasing importance of AI-powered networking and, if integrated well, will set up a new battleground in the networking space, according to partners.
“This is a moment for HPE to get totally disruptive in a very moderate space. HPE Aruba itself is significantly surpassing growth of [HPE’s] own business divisions, but also its competitors. There is momentum, and if they go and acquire Juniper and showcase their disruption to different customers and really integrate all their services, it could become something bigger than what [HPE] is imagining,” said Salim Gheewalla, vice president of marketing and alliances for Ottawa-based MSP giant Calian IT & Cyber Solutions.
Calian, an HPE, HPE Aruba Networking and Juniper partner, recently has seen substantial growth in its own HPE Aruba business.
In addition to its AI chops, Juniper is bringing its large pool of MSP partners to the table, Gheewalla said. Juniper’s service provider and enterprise business will also help propel HPE Aruba upmarket, he added.
“Right now, Aruba is still somewhere in that middle tier, but the experience and technology that Juniper has not only in the service provider business but also in the data center business will allow them to excel that enterprise [reach],” Gheewalla said.
Steve Wylie, senior vice president and general manager, East Majors, for Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider Trace3, said he believes the deal is a proof point of the importance of AI and data center networks.
“From my perspective, what this deal is indicative of is something we’ve been putting out there for a while, and that’s AI and networking infrastructure inside of the data center,” Wylie said. “I think that part of the reason HPE went down this path is because they recognize there’s a hole in the portfolio that needs to be shored up in order for them to be that end-to-end provider.”
The networking infrastructure component of data centers is growing and becoming a higher percentage of the cost of what customers are spending in their data centers, Wylie said.
“The logic behind that is lower-latency and higher-bandwidth networks cost more and there’s more of a focus on the networking components that deliver that. That networking piece is critical,” he said. “If you take a look at this acquisition, it really highlights that’s all true. HPE has this portfolio of hybrid cloud and compute, like GreenLake, [but] the piece that [HPE] is missing in the puzzle is that data center networking piece. It’s kind of like [HPE is saying], ‘How do we get to a full portfolio that can from A to Z answer the needs of clients?’”
Juniper’s Mist AI technology will be critical in where the market is going with networking: Everything will have to be more automated, said Lane Irvine, network business solutions director for Long View Systems, a Calgary, Alberta-based MSP.
“That’s where HPE is really going to be stepping that up so from that perspective, it’s a very smart move,” Irvine said. “Bringing Aruba and Juniper together and the integration of those two platforms is definitely going to create a big battleground.”
The Importance Of Integration
A cohesive AI product will bring HPE-Juniper to the next level and make the company a formidable competitor to Cisco Systems, partners told CRN.
It’s yet to be seen how the companies will go to market together—whether Juniper will stay relatively independent, similar to how HPE Aruba has largely been its own branch of HPE’s business after the company acquired wireless specialist Aruba Networks in 2015, partners said.
“That’s kind of a pivotal point and they’ll only get one shot at it,” Gheewalla said. “They can become very disruptive, or they can become a noise like some others have done in the past.”
Integration and delivering a seamless offering to partners and end customers will be critical, Gheewalla added.
“If [HPE, HPE Aruba and Juniper] remain three different units, it’s going to be a rough ride. If they bring everything together in one house, this could be amazing.”
For Trace3, one of the first things that comes to mind with an acquisition of this size is the heavy lift involved with bringing two behemoths together, Wylie said. It’s a process that could likely take years, as the two companies don’t expect the deal to close before late calendar year 2024 or early 2025.
“The proof is going to be in how the integration goes because that’s the challenge,” he said. “In any acquisition that happens, you can look at all the pieces and parts and while there’s magic that occurs from those pieces and parts, if you don’t effectively integrate those pieces into a unified solution, you’re not going to realize the benefit.”