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Security Platforms/Tools

Juniper Gets Into $122M Funk

(Nasdaq: JNPR) has stumped up $122 million for security specialist Funk Software Inc. in an attempt to boost its network access story, although the vendor is yet to reveal when the two product lines will be fully integrated. (See Juniper to Buy Funk.)

Funk, based in Cambridge, Mass., sells a range of software for controlling access to both wireless and wired networks.

Speaking on a conference call this morning, Juniper execs said that Funk’s workforce of around 140 employees, including CEO and founder Paul Funk, will become part of Juniper’s security products group. Execs also promised that Funk employees will remain at their New England base on the close of the acquisition in December.

But Juniper was unable to provide any specific timelines on when the two vendors’ products will be integrated, Hitesh Sheth, the firm’s vice president of enterprise products, saying only that “we will proceed on this as quickly as we can.”

The exec also sought to allay any concerns that existing customers may have about the deal, saying that he does not anticipate any changes to Funk’s pricing models. “We will continue to support existing technologies," he said, although, again, he did not offer specifics.

The user aspect of this deal is significant. Juniper is getting its paws on Funk’s 5,000-strong list of customers, which includes the likes of Adidas, Merck, and EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC). Sheth explained that about three quarters of these are enterprise firms and the remaining 25 percent are service providers.

But Juniper execs on this morning’s call sought to downplay this side of the deal. “We’re not buying the company for the revenue,” said one. “What we’re doing here is adding some very important technology.”

Sheth gave a clue as to how this might look, saying that Funk’s software will eventually form part of Juniper’s recently launched Infranet Controller device, which forms the heart of its network security strategy. (See Juniper Jumps on Network Security.) “We will have the ability to use both firewalls and Layer 2 infrastructure as enforcement points on the network."

Clearly, Juniper has plans to make Funk front and center in its Enterprise Infranet initiative. Launched earlier this year, the Enterprise Infranet is an offshoot of Juniper’s carrier plan, the Infranet Initiative, and is head-to-head with 's (Nasdaq: CSCO) Network Admission Control (NAC) strategy. (See Juniper Intros Enterprise Infranet, Juniper's Infranet Takes Baby Steps, and Cisco Heckles Infranet Initiative.)

Cisco’s NAC, which also enforces security policy compliance across different devices, was launched back in November 2003, and the networking giant has been slowly adding flesh to the bones of its plan. (See Cisco Unveils New Network Solution and Qualys, Cisco Team on NAC .)

For instance, Cisco recently extended its NAC strategy to encompass its Catalyst switch product lines and also announced a partnership with vulnerability management vendor Qualys. (See Cisco Expands NAC Framework and Qualys, Cisco Team on NAC .)

Experts have already identified the Enterprise Infranet as a valid alternative to Cisco, saying that it could help broaden Juniper’s influence in the enterprise market, where it is trying to break Cisco’s dominance. (See Juniper Infranets the Enterprise.)

But Juniper’s strategy, like Cisco’s, is still a work in progress. The Enterprise Infranet currently encompasses Juniper’s IPSec VPN and firewall products, although intrusion and prevention products will be added to the mix in the first quarter of 2006. (See Juniper Ships ISG 1000 and Juniper Slots in More Security .) Next up could then be the application acceleration technologies Juniper acquired when it bought Peribit and Redline earlier this year. (See Juniper Takes Two: Peribit & Redline.)

— James Rogers, Senior Editor, Byte and Switch

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