Juniper: The Other Cola?

A new router allegedly called 'Pepsi' will go head-to-head with Cisco's 2600 series, according to an analyst report

March 8, 2004

3 Min Read
Juniper: The Other Cola?

Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) may now be thinking of itself as Pepsi to Cisco Systems Inc.'s (Nasdaq: CSCO) Coke, if one financial analyst is correct.

Juniper is developing a product code-named "Pepsi," which is a router designed to compete with Cisco's 2600 series of branch-office routers, says Stephen Kamman, analyst with CIBC World Markets. Juniper officials declined comment.

The product development, if true, would put Juniper even deeper into Cisco's enterprise networking terrritory and turn up the intensity in an already fierce rivalry. It also might have the unintended consequence of reinforcing Cisco's "Coca-Cola" incumbent leadership in the router market.

Few details of Pepsi are out, but Kamman says the project is interesting as a way to wield security technology Juniper is acquiring from NetScreen Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: NSCN). "It's one of the places where you'd get synergy with the NetScreen acquisition," he says.

Juniper appears to have chosen this year for an all-out assault on Cisco's edge and enterprise networks. Its most bold move in that direction is the pending $4 billion acquisition of NetScreen. Juniper also launched the M320 to bolster its multiservice edge offerings, and some analysts think the company is eyeing further acquisitions related to enterprise routing. (See Juniper Buys NetScreen, Juniper Hatches the M320, and Would Juniper Go to Extremes?.)

Cisco's 2600 is a small box, compared with the likes of Juniper's M series. Intended for branch offices, the 2600 includes one or two ports of 10/100-Mbit/s Ethernet. Its lone module slot accommodates cards for options such as two more Ethernet ports or up to eight T1 ports.

In other words, it's not exactly a warp drive. But Cisco has a headlock on this market, deflecting competitors such as the Enterasys Networks Inc. (NYSE: ETS) X-Pedition 1800 and 2000, or Nortel Networks Corp.'s (NYSE/Toronto: NT) Passport 4400.

Cisco's 2003 share of the "midrange router" market -- which includes Cisco's 2600, 2500, 1700, and 1600 router families -- was 82 percent in terms of units, and 78 percent in terms of revenues, according to Neil Osipuk, an analyst following LAN switches for Infonetics Research Inc.

The 2600's longevity stems from "some combination of software, channel relations, and the integration with existing networks," Kamman says. Juniper would have to crack at least one of those areas to succeed against the 2600.

The NetScreen acquisition would help on the channel-relations front, but a bigger prize might be the integration of NetScreen's security into a 2600-like box. The market for secure midrange routers is relatively untapped, representing $167 million out of the total $1.4 billion market last year, according to Infonetics. Moreover, Nortel and Enterasys offer secure midrange routers, but Cisco doesn't (see Enterasys Intros Security Routers).

"Pepsi" is a nickname so apt, it's a wonder Juniper didn't use it years ago. For those who've been on Mars for the last few decades, the name refers to the Cola Wars, where Pepsico Inc. took on market leader Coca-Cola Co. (Then, there are those who prefer neither.)

— Craig "Dr Pepper" Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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