Juniper: Product, Platform Upgrades Will Boost Partners

Juniper Networks Thursday debuted significant updates to its chipset, router and software portfolios as part of a rollout that CEO Kevin Johnson said will directly drive the company's growth strategy going forward.

The moves will also give the company's channel partners greater leverage in what they can sell to customers, as well as attract the development community, Juniper executives said.

Juniper rolled out the new products as part of a ritzy, uptempo celebration at the New York Stock Exchange, which also included a gala reception Wednesday night, the unveiling of a new corporate logo and the symbolic ringing of the NYSE's opening bell by Juniper's executive team Thursday morning.

Johnson suggested the networking industry would need to evolve beyond point products, or be crushed under the weight of increasing network demands.

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"I would argue the networking industry is at a crossroads," Johnson said during a meeting for press and analysts Thursday. "We're bringing our core asset, Junos, and we want to embrace this concept of an innovation ecosystem to help solve these problems."

Innovation could slow to a point where the networking industry could be crippled, thanks to greater-than-ever demands on network traffic, performance and capacity, he said.

"This is an industry-wide issue," Johnson said. "Innovation and technology can address the problems, but it requires a new approach. We are taking a platform view."

Johnson noted the significant rate of acquisitions in the networking and infrastructure spaces in the past decade, but said Juniper was undeterred by criticism that it was ignoring significant growth opportunities by focusing on research and development instead of mergers and acquisitions. Those comments echoed similar statements Johnson made during a conference call to discuss Juniper's third-quarter earnings last week.

"Acquisitions in and of themselves are not bad as long as the follow-on integration is done to simplify things for customers," he said during the October 22 earnings call. "But how many of those acquisitions had a marketing integration without a technology integration?"

In addition to new products, Juniper Thursday also announced new and expanded partnerships. Juniper will license Junos to Blade Network Technologies -- a company it invested in earlier this year -- to develop blade server switches based on the operating system. Further, Juniper will extend its existing OEM relationship with IBM -- which already includes routers -- to now include Juniper's SRX Series Services Gateways.

Product-wise, Juniper's new offerings start with a chipset called Trio that, according to Pradeep Sindhu, Juniper's vice chairman and CTO, will be the basis for new Juniper products from now on. The Trio chipset, designed to bolster the processing power of Juniper products, includes a lookup engine chip, memory engine chip, queueing engine chip and interface engine chip.

For routers, Juniper debuted the MX3D and MX80 lines, respectively high-end and low-end routers that are both based on Trio. With the new routers, Juniper is aiming to meet network load demands better than not only previous Juniper routers, but also better than those offered by the competition.

Kim Perdicou, executive vice president of Juniper's infrastructure products group, compared the MX960 3D to Cisco Systems' ASR 9010 routers, saying Juniper's MX960 3D sports four times the performance of the ASR 9010 and also uses about one-tenth of the power of Juniper's previous MX960. She added that the new routers will be generally available in December.

Next: Juniper Lays Out Its Mobile Strategy

Perdicou also offered an update on Project Falcon, through which the company seeks to develop universal edge products that will serve and support mobile devices.

Juniper's mobile strategy has been questioned as of late, especially after the loss of a key mobile infrastructure partner, Starent Networks, which was acquired by Cisco earlier this month.

Perdicou responded to a question about Starent by saying Juniper is still open to mobile partnerships but is also looking to develop mobile infrastructure products in-house.

As part of its ongoing strategy to entice application developers to Junos, Juniper also unveiled Junos Space, a development platform that, while not yet generally available, already has several application development partners, the company said.

Junos Space will offer new applications from Juniper such as Ethernet Activator, a router monitoring tool called Service Now, and a program called Route Analyzer developed through Juniper's partnership with PacketDesign.

Mike Harding, Juniper's vice president and general manager for Junos Space, said Juniper would be releasing a software development kit in 2010 to further encourage potential application developer partners to embrace Junos. Harding mentioned that Junos Pulse, another Junos update designed to pare down the number of networking clients used in a particular infrastructure, will also be released next year.

Finally, David Yen, Juniper's executive vice president and general manager of the vendor's fabric and switching technologies business group, said Juniper would continue a push to develop cloud-based infrastructure and network management products. Yen said partners should expect several updates in 2010 to Stratus, Juniper's ongoing data center project, which was first unveiled in February.

Juniper expects the product updates and expanding platform to mean better opportunities for its channel partner community.

"It's all driven off the Junos platform," said Frank Vitagliano, vice president of worldwide channels at Juniper, in an interview with Thursday. "When I talk to partners, I look at three things they're after: How do I make money selling your product, do you have best-in-class technology and how will you build on that. Today's announcements do nothing but enhance those three things."

Vitagliano noted Juniper's success with the EX enterprise switching line, which debuted in January, 2008, and is now sold through more than 600 Juniper partners.

He also cited the SRX Series Services Gateways among products Juniper predicts will see continued adoption in the channel and major growth heading into the new year.

"You look at that product and it's just screaming right now," Vitagliano said. "We have to continue to do a good job and talk to people to explain why the game has changed and why we're not talking just about the best security platform but that it's one more part of greater acceptance in the market. What matters to the channel and what matters to our partners is that they have a better value proposition with all these announcements -- and they can make more money off of them while providing much more significant ROI."