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Juniper Grabs Video Startup

Craig Matsumoto
News Analysis
Craig Matsumoto
4/8/2010
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The router war between Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) continues to become more of a video game.

Juniper had already made video a major focus at Mobile World Congress. Now it's putting some more money behind its video madness, announcing a plan to buy Ankeena Networks Inc. for an unspecified sum. (See Juniper Challenges Cisco in the Mobile Core and Juniper to Buy Ankeena.)

Putting the video thing aside for a second, it's a heck of a payoff for a 65-employee startup that didn't exist until February 2008 and raised just $16 million in venture funding. Juniper is saying only that the purchase price was less than $100 million, so it's possible Ankeena sold for 25 cents and a blue Devo energy dome -- but it seems safe to assume Ankeena raked in quite a bit more than that.

Investors in Ankeena -- originally called Nokeena before trademark issues surfaced -- include Mayfield , Clearstone Venture Partners , and Trinity Ventures . (See Nokeena Now Ankeena Networks and Nokeena Raises $6.5M More.)

Ankeena's Media Flow Director technology powers Juniper's upcoming content delivery network (CDN) appliance, announced at Mobile World Congress. The technology can change the bit rate of video delivery, slowing things down in response to network congestion. Most video platforms start buffering the video when that happens, resulting in visible pauses in delivery. The whole idea is to make any medium behave more like TV does, says Anshu Agarwal, Ankeena's vice president of marketing.

The other selling point to Media Flow Director is the ability to handle video on a massive scale, something that's going to be vital to service providers trying to offer video services.

Media Flow Director was intended for x86-based servers, and Juniper would continue offering it that way, says Mike Marcellin, a Juniper vice president of marketing. For its partnership with Juniper, Ankeena adopted its software for the Junos operating system, benefiting from Juniper's program to open Junos to certain software partners. (See Juniper Opens Up to Apps Developers and Juniper Takes Over the Network.)

Juniper apparently liked the way that worked out, because the plan is now for Ankeena and its 65 employees to fold into the Junos Ready Software (JRS) group, finding ways to use the technology in other Juniper products, including routers. "We're already taking a look at some of the other opportunities where we could do just that," says Mike Marcellin, a Juniper vice president of marketing, offering no specifics.

The acquisition also brings Juniper some added video expertise, helping it continue to lock horns with video-crazed Cisco. You can get a feel for the company's perspective in this interview with Ankeena CTO Prabakar Sundarrajan, filmed at TelcoTV in November.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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