If anyone knows how to compete against Cisco, it’s Juniper. Juniper redefined core routing and forced Cisco to re-invent their aging portfolio of core devices. My affection for Juniper runs deep. From the outside, I marveled at their ASIC designs, the elegance of JUNOS, and the sheer power of their devices. From the inside, I learned first-hand how talent, hard-work, and passion for an alternative vision of networking can lead a company to not only battle but win against Cisco.
However, since Juniper’s acquisition of NetScreen in February of 2004, and subsequently their yearning for a piece of the Enterprise pie, Juniper is beginning to resemble a long list of Cisco challengers. As Benjamin Franklin said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
Unlike Cisco, Juniper has been either resistant or hesitant to complete their portfolio via acquisition. For example, while Juniper was in dire need of a switch they chose to develop it internally rather than purchase companies like Foundry or Extreme. Subsequently, Juniper has been forced into a best-of-breed scenario whereby they partner with other companies to provide end-to-end solutions. One such example is their partnership with IBM.
Meanwhile, both Cisco and HP are driving towards a one-stop-shop model of providing all the hardware, software, and services required to implement and maintain their respective solutions. Given the success rate of this strategy, IBM may be forced to join Cisco and HP. The danger to Juniper is they simply cannot match the Enterprise reach of these massive companies or the breadth of solutions they offer.
Finally, Juniper is light on public/private cloud computing solutions. Juniper needs to evaluate storage networking, an answer to Cisco’s UCS vision, virtualization, and management solutions. Of course Juniper touts their Stratus Project and just signed another OEM relationship with Dell to team on data center technology. However, Juniper has done this before; remember the Infranet?
In the end, Juniper may end-up being purchased by Dell or IBM. Or, Juniper can get back to their roots by innovating and disrupting the market. Why follow Cisco and HP’s lead? Offer a viable alternative to their strategies. Develop, market, and deploy a real datacenter fabric built on Ethernet and chalk filled with MPLS. Create a new type of Router that can handle the shear speed, QoS, and security requirements of the next generation backbone.
Come on Juniper, Wake Up!