Feature Story: Juniper's Enterprise Vision
Juniper, long a dabbler in the enterprise, has arrived.
And it's symbolic that Sindhu got to reveal the EX during the company's press and analyst event, held here last Tuesday under the ornate chandeliers of the Palace Hotel. It means Juniper's new mission in the enterprise is one that still involves the old guard, the service provider business that makes up two thirds of its revenues. (See Juniper Storms Into Ethernet Switching.)
It's a changed Juniper that's celebrating its 12th birthday this week. The company has new blood from enterprise giants like Sun Microsystems Inc. . The EX fills a gap in enterprise Ethernet. And it's coming at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) with a "vision" for the enterprise, one that goes well beyond the NetScreen security products Juniper acquired four years ago.
But some believe Juniper's enterprise attack is still incomplete.
Critics contend the blending of service provider and enterprise markets might not be as easy as Juniper claims, and some wonder whether the company needs different faces near -- or at -- the top as it grows past the $3 billion-a-year mark.
"They live in this nether world right now, sort of half service provider and half enterprise. That makes it tough on them. Sometimes, I don't think they know who they are," says Deb Mielke, principal analyst with Treillage Network Strategies Inc.
The new lingo
Juniper's new tagline for the enterprise is "fast, reliable, and secure." The theory is that businesses rely on networked applications to a point where the network is as vital as blood vessels are to the human body.
And it's true. Enterprises are starting to demand carrier-class features, playing into Juniper's hands. "Juniper has a chance to be disruptive here," says Ray Mota, an analyst with Synergy Research Group Inc.
But go to any John Chambers keynote these days. The Cisco CEO does talk about networks being fast and secure. He follows it up, though, with a message about how video and collaboration are driving business. It's touchy-feely stuff, but some analysts wonder if Juniper couldn't use a little more of it.
"John Chambers is up there telling me I've got to be in video and collaboration, and that the world's going to change. They're tapping into emotion," Mielke says. "People buy on emotion. Even technology people buy on emotion."
In fact, the criticism against Juniper has long been that its technology pitch, which service providers love, doesn't really work in the enterprise. "Part of what they're challenged with is talking to the right audience," says Robert Whiteley, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc. "They're too speeds-and-feeds and product-oriented."
Juniper CEO Scott Kriens concedes as much.
"It's not really about the speeds and feeds, it's about the performance of the applications," Kriens tells Light Reading. "There's no CIO I know who's saying, 'If only I had a bigger box.' They're saying, 'If only I had faster deployment of applications. If only I had more security visibility worldwide on my network. If only I had simpler operations, lower cost of ownership' -- those are the priorities."
At the same time, Kriens rejects the idea that Juniper should emphasize end-uses like video. That's too Cisco-like.
"It's kind of like saying if you buy the satellite from us, you have to buy a television from us as well," he says.
Still, some analysts left Juniper's EX launch wondering how much more could have been said. The problem with "fast, reliable, and secure," according to Yankee Group Research Inc. analyst Zeus Kerravala, is that everybody else has already said it. (See Juniper EX Bits.)
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