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Juniper Isn't So Secure in the Enterprise

Craig Matsumoto
Valley Wonk
Craig Matsumoto

BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress -- Amid the big mobile tradeshow comes a bit of news apparently out of the RSA Conference back home: Reuters reports that Juniper Networks Inc. tried to sell its enterprise division late last year. Apparently, the company queried potential buyers about picking up the NetScreen security business, among other options, but got no exciting offers. The theory, which Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson sort of denied ("if you look at the acquisitions we have done, we're a buyer not a seller," he told a Reuters reporter in person), actually makes sense. Juniper's strategy has been heavy on the service provider side, with a string of new products that it's still nurturing to maturity. I know we keep listing them all, but hey, why not list them again: the QFabric data center fabric, the T4000 core router, the MobileNext evolved packet core for Long Term Evolution (LTE), the PTX Converged Supercore and the ACX access router. They were supposed to combine for a shiny, ascendent Juniper starting right about now, but it hasn't worked out. Juniper was surprisingly upbeat about 2013 during its earnings call in January, partly because those new products ought to start bearing fruit. But things haven't gone according to plan, and what was supposed to be an exciting year is starting with a lot of question marks. Enterprise is still an important market to Juniper, but it's going to have to get NetScreen's enterprise mojo back. Cisco and F5 are on crusades to lead the security market. If Juniper wants to stay in, it's going to have to devote resources to security -- and to all those other markets it's covering. Meanwhile, you've got the anecdote of Juniper scoffing at Nir Zuk's next-generation firewall idea. He used it to found startup Palo Alto Networks, which raised a big fat Silicon Valley IPO in July, as the Reuters story points out. Palo Alto represents a major missed opportunity for Juniper. It's not as though Juniper started selling digital cameras or anything, but it does feel like the company has overreached and needs to pick its battles. For more

— Craig Matsumoto, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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Craig Matsumoto
Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/28/2013 | 7:18:08 AM
re: Juniper Isn't So Secure in the Enterprise
-áThat'd be gutsy, but sometimes, that's what a company needs. There's a lot of corporate pride packed into QFabric.

I'd agree with you about MobileNext being pushed to the margins -- and now that you mention it, I haven't heard about Ankeena for a while.

QFabric is here to stay, I think -- but you might be right about it, Bob.
Bob Saccamano
Bob Saccamano,
User Rank: Light Beer
2/28/2013 | 1:24:17 AM
re: Juniper Isn't So Secure in the Enterprise
QFabric.-á It-áwas over-hyped, delivered late and missed the market.-á It has turned out to be nothing more than a middle of the pack 10gE switch.-á If I had to guess, I'd say QFabric, MobileNext and that CDN acquisition have alreay been de-emphasized if not unofficially dropped.-á Juniper is teaching the lesson once again that a company cannot let marketing get too far out in front of product execution.
Craig Matsumoto
Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/27/2013 | 4:12:55 PM
re: Juniper Isn't So Secure in the Enterprise
-áTrue, not every brilliant idea works, and every big company in tech has its share of employee startups that eventually cratered. Good to keep that in mind.

Palo Alto is just a painful case because of its success in an area where Juniper is seen to be hurting.-á 20/20 hindsight and all that.
User Rank: Moderator
2/27/2013 | 3:51:07 PM
re: Juniper Isn't So Secure in the Enterprise
A few former Juniper employees have had what they thought were brilliant ideas at the time, and left to form their own companies to pursue that dream. The record on those companies, in hindsight, is spotty. Palo Alto Networks is, so far, proving to be the exception.
Craig Matsumoto
Craig Matsumoto,
User Rank: Light Sabre
2/27/2013 | 10:20:24 AM
re: Juniper Isn't So Secure in the Enterprise
If you had to pick one project for Juniper to drop -- one piece to jettison -- what would it be?

MobileNext has been a tempting answer for a while, but abandoning the EPC might not resonate well with customers (even if they don't intend on using Juniper's EPC). I actually wouldn't want to see Juniper walk away from the enterprise but it might end up being the most palatable option.
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