Juniper J-Series Could Challenge Cisco

Juniper plans to sell the new J-series Services Router family through solution providers, including some of the 400 worldwide channel partners it gained through its acquisition of NetScreen Technologies earlier this year.

"There are probably a fair amount of pure Cisco networks that will look at the J-series as a viable option for procuring new technology," said Tom Gobeille, president of Network Computing Architects, a solution provider based in Bellevue, Wash.

In particular, customers that are implementing non-Cisco VoIP solutions would be likely to consider the new routers, said Dennis Gorecki, marketing manager at Data Comm Networking, a solution provider in Burr Ridge, Ill.

David Willis, senior analyst at Meta Group, said Juniper is the only serious competitor to Cisco in the enterprise access router market. As for market share erosion, he said, "We could well see a couple of percentage points over the next year-and-a-half come out of Cisco as a result of this."

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However, Juniper's quest to take on Cisco in a space in which it enjoys more than 90 percent market share is not without challenges. Partners pointed to Cisco's brand-name recognition and reputation for product quality as formidable obstacles. Also, Juniper's plan to tap its service provider customer base as reseller partners of the new products could cause channel conflict and margin erosion, just as a similar strategy has for Cisco, Gobeille said.

Juniper plans to spend the rest of the year preparing its partner base to sell the new line and is bolstering its global channel strategy with new personnel in channel marketing, development and management, said Jim Dolce, executive vice president of field operations at Juniper, Sunnyvale, Calif.

The new J-series routers, scheduled to ship in September, will run on the company's modular Junos operating system, the same OS that runs on Juniper's carrier-focused products.

Juniper initially will release three models: the J2300, J4300 and J6300, priced at $1,900, $4,000 and $9,000, respectively.