Optical/IP Networks

Cisco's Funk Breakdown

The acquisition of security firm Funk Software Inc. by Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR) -- completed late Thursday -- could provoke Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) to buy or partner with more security startups, as the networking number two guns for Cisco accounts.

Juniper is planning to rebrand the Funk product line, which includes the popular Odyssey client and Steel-Belted Radius server, with the Juniper logo and sell it through the J-Partner qualified reseller program starting in February 2006.

Unlike many of the startups in the enterprise wireless market, Funk already has a sizable installed base of customers and many partners, including the top supplier of enterprise wireless LAN equipment: Cisco.

In its rapid re-branding plan, Juniper looks to be using security to gain entry into Cisco accounts. And Juniper's moves have angered at least one long-time Funk reseller, eTribeca LLC. "I give both Funk and Juniper very poor marks in dealing with the transition of both resellers/distributors to date," writes Tribeca CTO Gary Berzack in an email to Unstrung. "My current reading based on official communications from Funk is that I am to stop buying Funk software from distributors we have worked with for years and in fact I have to be a full Juniper partner. What is not clear is our pricing and competitiveness in the market place going forward."

This is not like other wireless mergers in recent months, Berzack notes. Airspace, for instance, was a very new company "with some key clients but small market penetration."

"This will affect thousands of our end-users since one Funk sale can represent 100 seats or more," Berzack says. "Everyone uses Funk."

Juniper did not reply to requests for comment by press time.

Cisco says that the acquisition shouldn't change its relationship with Funk.

"We're still going to let them work with us," says a Cisco spokesman. "But there's more than one egg in our basket."

Cisco also has wireless LAN security partnerships with Devicescape Software Inc. and Meetinghouse Data Communications Inc.. Analysts suggest that the Funk acquisition could prompt Cisco to buy more security firepower for itself.

"They are expanding beyond the capabilities that Funk provided, so they would have had to acquire or invent new technology capabilities in any event," says Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates. "I would not be surprised to see Cisco partner or acquire."

The Cisco spokesman wouldn't comment, but the firm has already bought in wireless-related security firms like Perfigo and worked with others such as AirDefense Inc.. (See Is Cisco Seeking Security?.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

joset01 12/5/2012 | 2:52:03 AM
re: Cisco's Funk Breakdown Do you think they will buy more or just sign more partners?
wlanner 12/5/2012 | 2:52:02 AM
re: Cisco's Funk Breakdown Unfortunately, I don't think they need to do anything. Cisco has Perifgo (Clean Access) and the Cisco Security Agent. I don't see why they need someone else.

Cisco is NAC (although with the Trusted Computing Group, MS NAP, and the stuff companies like Funk with the TCG are doing there will be an alternative).

Juniper needed an answer to NAC and Funk was it. Now Juniper has routers, security/IDS/VPN (Netscreen), Juniper NAC (Funk). They need a L2/L3 switch and a wireless company (AP/Controller) and then they have the pieces.

So, its Juniper that has more to do, not Cisco (and then we'll have an alternative).
data_sub 12/5/2012 | 2:52:02 AM
re: Cisco's Funk Breakdown Juniper got a real bargain with Funk. SBR is everywhere in the enterprise and in the larger service provider/wireless operator space. SBR it is a good product, cheap, and very user friendly. This was a great way to break into the enterprise market and gain access into accounts that Juniper has previously not been very active.

One recommendation to Juniper is to really promote the services with this product as they bundle it with their current offering. Funk (like Cisco) is not a good service company. Hey Cisco "RTFM" is not the slogan of a company that cares about its customers. Just because they publish a bunch of material doesn't make their products any good. Of course their routing and switching products are good but hey its 2006 (not 1995). All of the routing and switching products on the market are good (except maybe Dell, hehehehe). Any of the non-router/switch Cisco products are very questionable and some are a complete mess. Great marketing but I expect a little better engineering from a company of that size.

I agree that Cisco already has enough pieces to provide a solution. They are quite good at buying companies. Cisco AAA is a loser product and only used by foolish companies that are tied to end-to-end Cisco solutions. Juniper should buy Extreme for switching. Extreme is in a similar state as Juniper in needing a more comprehensive product portfolio. I guess the question is how cheaply can Extreme be purchased. The Extreme switch is well branded and a good product.

For the wireless piece I suggest Juniper buy Starent. Starent should be cheap enough and capable of breaking into the AP/controller business. I think they are just a PDSN and GGSN vendor but they must be looking closely at the Radio controller and AP market if they expect to survive. They already own the CDMA packet data access and will probably win the UMTS access with time. The Starent customer list would be a nice win for Juniper and I hear the Starent product is quite good.

Cisco is a dog. Once Juniper and others break the Cisco hold on the enterprise market I put a buy at 3$ a share (see Lucent and Nortel).
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