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Ethernet equipment

Juniper's Closeup

3:35 PM -- Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) holds its analyst day tomorrow, which probably means we'll get an earful about the company's enterprise and data center plans.

Why? First, it's all the rage. "We can’t avoid buzz words like cloud computing," analyst Simon Leopold of Morgan Keegan & Company Inc. writes in a note that came out this morning. (Apparently, neither can we.)

Second, the company's already been talking about this, even before Scott Kriens stepped down as CEO to make way for Kevin Johnson. (See Feature Story: Juniper's Enterprise Vision.) Recently, Juniper has shown sweeping architectural diagrams where its EX line of routers help simplify the data center, doing the layer-collapsing dance that vendors shopped to telecom customers for so long.

Then you've got the circumstantial evidence that Johnson came from Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), which certainly counts as enterprise experience. (See Kriens Steps Aside as Juniper CEO.)

It's possible Johnson will use tomorrow's session to describe his growth plan for the company, writes analyst Mark Sue of RBC Capital Markets in another report from this morning. Many observers believe Juniper's next life stage hinges on enterprise business.

Johnson will also have to answer to the economy, which has finally caught up with Juniper. (See Juniper's Q4 Shows Worry Lines.) He's already increasing R&D spending by 15 percent, even in the face of recession. I like that, but short-term investors won't, as Sue and Leopold both point out. Johnson could soften the sting by making product announcements tomorrow; Leopold mentions Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCOE), while Sue hints at customized work for AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), "which is not yet a meaningful Juniper customer."

Among the questions that won't get answered tomorrow is: "How long can Light Reading resist mentioning Johnson without linking to a picture of the KJ?" That's because you've got your answer above, and I think we deserve kudos for holding back even this long.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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