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Juniper Networks CEO Rahim On 5G, SD-WAN, And The Drive To Rule The Multi-Cloud World

Juniper Networks CEO Rami Rahim is positioning his company to capitalize on the move to 5G, cementing an open, end-to-end strategy for multi-cloud architectures and making sure that Juniper's SD-WAN strategy is part of that holistic end-to-end formula.

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What's your strategy for the SD-WAN market?

It's a big opportunity. It's an emerging opportunity, and I still think there's a lot more talk than there is actual action in deployments. The potential for the SD-WAN market to become huge is absolutely there. We took a bit of a different approach. We took our time. We didn't jump in early because we fundamentally believe that the SD-WAN market as perceived initially is just too narrow a view. SD-WAN just to solve the connectivity problem is just not all that interesting, and not what I believe to be the really compelling attribute of SD-WAN in the future. We took the time to build a solution that is inherently embedded in the end-to-end architecture. We made sure our solution gave you maximum scalability. It's not just about winning the first three branches; we wanted to make sure – especially with who our customers are – that when we win an account that has literally thousands and thousands of branches, that we can scale up to that level of connectivity. For our customers, multi-tenancy is going to be really important. We wanted to make sure that this didn't come as just a point product, but that it gives our customers a level of openness that allows them to pick and choose different network functions and virtual network functions. They can decide to combine our SD-WAN solution with a WAN optimization solution that comes from a third-party vendor. For our customers that's really important. Not all of the capabilities I've described are considered fundamental components of SD-WAN, but we think they are fundamental components of SD-WAN. We are not first to market, but we are now offering into the market a truly compelling solution that's differentiated. We're initially working with our service provider customers such as Vodafone to offer this service to the enterprise space. More and more, we'll have more enterprise accounts ourselves.

How big a portion of your overall business do you think SD-WAN will become?

The SD-WAN market could become a $4 billion market a few years from now per analysts' expectations. Our enterprise branch business in the company today is not all that large. It's in the few hundreds-of-millions. We have an opportunity to leverage an inflection point that's happening in the market and take substantial share. We have nothing to lose by playing a very disruptive game with SD-WAN to take advantage of these next-gen branch build-outs. We have everything to gain. The key is to come to the market with a differentiated offering, and we're now at that point. I'm very bullish and excited about the opportunity.

Do you see Juniper and other networking industry challengers chipping away at Cisco's market share?

When I joined the company a couple decades ago, I was told that it would be a truly challenging task to take market share from the large incumbents and that I might consider a career elsewhere because it might be too difficult or too ambitious. I'm pretty happy I didn't listen. I think the opportunity to present compelling solutions, to leverage inflection points in the market with the goal of taking share in areas where we demonstrate real strength. We've taken substantial share in the telco space. We've taken substantial share in the cloud space over the years, and I think we can continue to do that.

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