Juniper CEO: Still Laser Focused
Juniper, says Kriens, is one of the few companies that hasn’t suffered harshly from the economic downturn. In fact, while its competitors have laid off thousands of workers to save costs, Juniper has had only one round of layoffs back in June, which reduced its staff by about 8 to 9 percent.
The recent acquisition of Pacific Broadband could be construed by some as a divergence from Juniper’s core focus on IP routing (see Juniper Buys Pacific Broadband ). But Kriens explained in the question and answer period after his speech that the cable aggregation market is a natural extension to Juniper’s overall IP strategy because it helps provide IP connectivity. But he also admitted that the acquisition will likely help the company do what it does best: sell more routers.
“Yes, definitely,” he said in an interview following the keynote. “We hope it will help us sell more routers. The cable products aggregate the traffic and then they are connected to the Internet by routers. We can provide the whole solution.”
With the Pacific Broadband merger almost complete, some wonder if Juniper is gearing up for an acquisition blitz. Judging from Kriens' response, the answer is maybe.
“You can definitely expect further partnerships. I think some companies have confused the difference between acquisition as a strategy and as a tactic. There is a difference. For those that use it as a strategy, the returns there have been dubious.” Kriens also remained firm on his position toward optical switching. He reiterated again that he did not see the company building or acquiring an optical switch. Although the company has invested in optical switch startup Calient Networks Inc., he said that Juniper will continue to remain focused on IP.
“Fundamentally, electrical is different from optical. I’m not saying that a company can’t participate in more than one market. Look at G.E.; they make light bulbs, dishwashers, and engines. But we need to remain focused.”
As far as future opportunities, he said he sees Internet wireless services as a big driver of Internet expansion. Within two years there are expected to be as many wireless devices connected to the Internet as wireline devices, he said. He referred to the company’s recent announcement of support for IPv6 as a sign that Juniper is ready and willing to embrace the new challenges wireless will bring to Internet networking (see Mobile Access Drives IPv6).
He was also optimistic about the future on a macro level, telling attendees that the industry is in the midst of natural business cycle that includes a period of speculation and investment, fallout, stability and retrenchment, and finally leadership.
”I think we are entering a period of stability and retrenchment,” he said. “And retrenching creates an opportunity for leadership. It’s easier to pick the winners from the losers today than it’s ever been.”
— Marguerite Reardon, Senior Editor, Light Reading