Juniper Raids Microsoft

6:45 AM -- Since when did Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) decide to be the New York Yankees?

That's not a comment how much the organization might or might not suck. It's about a sudden wave of free-agent signings, figuratively speaking. Here's who's come to Juniper, especially from Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), in the past six days (links go to press releases):

It's no particular secret what's happening. Kevin Johnson, Juniper's CEO, came from Microsoft, and he and Chief Marketing Officer Lauren Flaherty have been reshaping Juniper's message in their own collective voice. As I mentioned several months back, Juniper is becoming more of a marketing company.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is bleeding executives: Stephen Elop (now CEO of Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK)), Robbie Bach (retired, although we'll see if that lasts), and Enrique Rodriguez (Cisco's service provider group, where he launched Videoscape this month). (See Nokia Dumps CEO, Hires Elop, Former Microsoft Exec Joins Cisco's Video Group and CES: Cisco Unveils Master Plan for Video.)

And more. Upon Brooks' departure -- which was probably the biggest of those four moves -- Apple Insider pointed out that two other executives had just left, for Google and Salesforce.com.

Whatever's happening at Microsoft, Juniper seems happy to take full advantage.

The stock is up about 40 percent in the past year, so investors like the plan. But the real test comes later this year, when Stratus and Falcon, two key Juniper initiatives, get revealed. It's up to the new team to make sure everybody gets wowed accordingly.

If you can't tell the players without a program, check out "Juniper's Sweet 16: Top Execs Driving the New Network." It's a photo essay at CRN, which is owned by Light Reading parent United Business Media Ltd. (UBM) (London: UBM.L).

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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