Juniper jumps into zero-trust NAC market with WiteSand acquisition

Juniper Networks scooped up startup WiteSand this week to add cloud-native, zero-trust Network Access Control (NAC) services to Juniper's AI-driven enterprise portfolio.

Juniper hasn't disclosed the financial details of the acquisition or WiteSand's headcount but has shared plans to bring on WiteSand's engineering team in addition to its NAC technology. The networking company wasted no time acquiring WiteSand, which only came out of stealth mode in mid-2021. Founder and CEO Praveen Jain, a former SVP at Cisco, launched WiteSand in May of 2019.

Juniper Networks corporate headquarters located in Silicon Valley. 
(Source: Sundry Photography / Alamy Stock Photo.)
Juniper Networks corporate headquarters located in Silicon Valley.
(Source: Sundry Photography / Alamy Stock Photo.)

Jeff Aaron, VP of enterprise marketing for Juniper, told Light Reading that WiteSand's AI-driven, cloud-native approach to NAC, which identifies devices that can securely connect to a network, was part of the startup's appeal. Traditional approaches to NAC require on-premise hardware and are "not integrated well with wired and wireless products themselves," he explained. "They're really standalone devices. Together it makes it difficult to scale and troubleshoot – all the problems that NAC has had for a decade or so."

WiteSand's NAC will be integrated with "wireless assurance, wired assurance, WAN assurance, IoT assurance, and indoor location services under a common Mist cloud and AI umbrella," said Sujai Hajela, EVP of the AI-driven enterprise for Juniper Networks, in a statement.

Aaron added that Juniper will utilize "predictive anomaly detection, self-driving operations and a virtual network assistant for queries" in its approach to NAC.

The majority of WiteSand's employees will now be part of Juniper's AI-driven enterprise team, which "includes our wired access, wireless access and SD-WAN," said Aaron. "It makes sense to fall under the Mist cloud and AI engine." Juniper's AI-driven enterprise segment grew 29% YoY, according to CFO Ken Miller on a recent financial earnings call.

WiteSand's NAC could also fit with Juniper's strategy in the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) space. Juniper has been steadily developing its SASE and cloud portfolio. Earlier this month, it launched a new cloud-delivered security service, Juniper Secure Edge, as part of its SASE platform.

Last month, Juniper added security features, hardware and configuration options to its Session Smart Routing (SSR) SD-WAN platform, and said customers can now configure, manage and utilize the session-aware routing SSR technology via the Mist cloud and AI engine. Since its 2020 acquisition of 128 Technology for $450 million, Juniper has also steadily updated its SD-WAN services with 128's SSR technology.

— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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