Juniper Ditches DX Line

load balancing

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based networking vendor this week dropped the DX, short for Data Center Acceleration, line from its roster. Juniper added DX appliances to its product portfolio after it acquired Redline Networks in May 2005 for $132 million in a push to become a strong data center player. And while Juniper saw some growth with its DX line early into the offering, it couldn't stack up to competition from others in the arena, such as Citrix Systems, F5 Networks and A10 Networks.

"They should've never done it in the first place," said Pat Grillo, president and CEO of Atrion Communications Resources, a Branchburg, N.J.-based solution provider and Juniper partner. "There was a lot of competition in that space and I don't think they were ready for it. To be successful in that market you have to focus."

Grillo said he saw minimal interest in Juniper's DX line. He said the products were technologically sound but Juniper didn't push them as strongly as it pushes its security, routing and switching gear. Grillo said the vast majority of his Juniper business is on the VPN and firewall side.

"There was no real effort made for it to be successful," he said. "No one was in here pounding us to sell DX."

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Peter Stokes, vice president of North American sales for San Jose, Calif.-based load balancer maker A10 networks agreed that Juniper didn't put as much stock into DX as it did some of its other product offerings. While Stokes said there were no particular technological problems with Juniper's DX platform, it failed to catch up with contemporary networking needs.

"The world has changed drastically in a short time," he said, adding that the advent of applications like peer-to-peer, streaming video, IPv6 and intense scripting weren't part of Redline's offering when Juniper bought it and Juniper struggled to bring the existing capabilities of Redline into the modern era to keep pace with performance demands. "Those problems and technologies have shifted and it's just not [Juniper's] focus.

"Load balancing is really about putting together a platform that lets you take advantage of complex features," Stokes continued. "This market demands innovation and new features. We're finding that application acceleration and load balancing is becoming a more important piece of the infrastructure."

In a written statement, Juniper said it plans to push customers toward other application acceleration products in its portfolio and noted that the vendor currently has more than 400 open positions within the company and is making efforts to find new roles for employees DX's discontinuation will affect.

"The strength of Juniper is based on the competitive advantage that we bring to the market coupled with the increasing criticality of high-performance networking to our customers' business success," Juniper said in a statement. "Our ability to deliver sustained differentiation is the nexus of the opportunity in front of us and this is what defines us. We remain fully committed to capitalizing on this opportunity. To this end, Juniper has made the formal decision to end-of-life the DX hardware, software and licenses. We will work diligently to continue to support existing customer installations of the DX and successfully work to transition customers to other application acceleration products within our high-performance network infrastructure offerings."

A Juniper spokesperson said the vendor's WX, or WAN Acceleration, platform will not be affected. That platform was picked up in July 2005 when Juniper purchased Peribit Networks for $337 million.

Juniper would not comment further on its prepared statement.

According to Juniper, the DX application acceleration platform delivered a complete data center acceleration solution for Web-enabled and IP-based applications. Based on the DX Framework, the platform was designed to deliver content faster by offering server load balancing, SSL encryption and termination and HTTP compression and application security.

The DX line consisted of four models: the DX 3200, 3280, 3600 and 3680. Juniper said the appliances were used to speed Web-based application performance for local, remote and mobile users up to 50 percent; lower data center infrastructure and bandwidth costs by up to 60 percent; increase application scalability and server capacity by up to four times; and provide server- and data center-level load balancing for availability and scalability.

Stokes said A10 has some overlap with Juniper's channel partners and said A10 will help them come up with migration plans for their DX customers and come up with an alternative solution. He added that he's confident Juniper will work with its DX installed base to make that transition smooth.

"They're going to do whatever they can to take care of their customers," he said.

Grillo called dropping DX a good move for Juniper, which can now put more focus on its core competencies.

"It'll be better for them," he said. "They can focus on what's paying the bills."