Optical/IP Networks

Cisco Starts Totally Ragging on Juniper

For years, Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) generally avoided mentioning Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) by name.

That changed Monday when Cisco unveiled a special Juniper-ragging website at www.overpromisesunderdelivers.net.

Cisco's claim is that Juniper has yet to deliver on some of its most highly anticipated products, such as QFabric, and hasn't technically come through on certain promises, such as the claim of a single operating system for all products.

This being Cisco, they make their point using video.

Put another way: Are you ready for some football?!

This is new. For years, Cisco avoided discussing its competitors directly, at least in keynotes and media briefings, and in many cases wouldn't even mention Juniper by name.

Cisco executives haven't precisely spelled out why they're changing tactics, but it sounds like the company has been frustrated with -- even jealous of -- the market's love affair with Juniper during the past year or so.

"Some vendors have repeatedly over-promised and under delivered, and still somehow receive credit for their vision!" writes Rob Lloyd, Cisco's executive vice president of worldwide operations, in a blog entry published Monday.

Cisco's stagnant stock price has made it a Wall Street punching bag lately, forcing moves such as the closure of Flip camera unit. Some are questioning the company's entire future and wondering why CEO John Chambers hasn't been ousted.

Juniper, by contrast, went back to being a bright up-and-comer, thanks to products such as QFabric and MobileNext (Juniper's mobile packet core, previously named Falcon). Its stock price had been climbing, although the economy put a stop to that. (See Juniper Darkens 2011 Outlook.)

A major part of Cisco's needling centers on the amount of time it's taken to bring these products to market, but Juniper is refuting those points, according to a Monday Wall Street Journal story (registration required). Falcon, for instance, has been shipping for a while, Executive Vice President Stefan Dyckerhoff is quoted as saying.

Might Juniper retaliate? Actually, considering that Cisco competitors rarely have a problem calling out Cisco by name, that question feels a little obvious.

The more serious question might be whether the campaign could backfire. Cisco had some sound PR reasons for not acknowledging Juniper by name. Juniper executives could pretty easily claim that Cisco's new tactics are a reaction to Juniper's power in the market.

UPDATE: Juniper has issued this statement from David Shane, vice president of global corporate communications: "We're not going to comment on a competitor's publicity stunt. Customers tell us they want an alternative to the legacy approach, and we're focused on delivering innovation for them. It appears as if Cisco has once again lost focus."

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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