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Juniper, Nokia-Siemens Team on Carrier Ethernet

The market for carrier Ethernet solutions is about to get a little more crowded thanks to a new joint venture from Juniper Networks and Nokia-Siemens Networks (NSN).

The pair's joint venture, officially named "Carrier Ethernet Solutions," today received regulatory approval after having first been revealed in June. With the new company, the two networking giants aim to meld hardware and software from both partners into a joint solution for carrier networks.

Juniper Networks (NASDAQ: JNPR) owns 60 percent of the joint venture company, while 40 percent will be owned by NSN.

The effort comes at a critical time for carrier Ethernet as service providers around the world work to meet the growing demands for bandwidth and lower costs amid an economic recession.

"This joint venture is an extension of a long-standing partnership with Nokia-Siemens Networks that encompasses IP aggregation, edge and core solutions in more than 200 customers around the world," John Stewart, CEO of the joint venture, told InternetNews.com. "Both companies bring best-in-class technologies, and the joint venture provides an opportunity for greater market access in carrier Ethernet, with Juniper's leadership position in wireline and NSN's leadership position in both wireline and wireless."

Stewart previously served as the vice president and general manager for the Mobility and Circuit Emulation Business Unit at Juniper. Ton van den Boom, formerly a senior manager in finance at NSN, will join as CFO of the joint venture.

Today's announcement of regulatory approval is an important step for the business, Stewart said.

"We now have approval to engage customers around the world to help address their requirements with the ... Carrier Ethernet Solution," Stewart said.

The actual solutions sold by the Carrier Ethernet Solutions joint venture will continue to carry the brand names of the respective parent company. Stewart said that the individual components of the solution include Juniper's MX-series routers, NSN's A-series switches and network management.

He added that the value-add of the joint venture is the integration of those components into a seamless, end-to-end solution.

What about Juniper switches?

Juniper's own EX-class switch and its T-series carrier routing system are not part of the NSN joint venture offering. Juniper entered the switch market in 2008. In May, Juniper introduced its EX8216 switch, which is a cloud optimized switch with up to 12.4 terabits of switching capacity.

"This joint venture is targeted at the carrier Ethernet market, while the Juniper EX series has a feature set optimized for enterprise networks," Stewart said. "The Nokia Siemens Networks A-series is an industry-leading carrier Ethernet switching portfolio providing an effective evolution path from the existing TDM networks toward the next-generation Ethernet transport networks, and is targeted primarily at access applications."

Juniper's T-series router includes the T1600, which is a 1.6Tbps routing platform that Juniper has targeted at carrier customers in the past. Stewart noted that while the Juniper T-series router has synergies with the carrier Ethernet solution, the new company does not plan to offer the T-series.

Still, Stewart added that if a service provider wanted to, they could deploy T-series in a different application, such as IP/MPLS core routing.

Competitors

The Carrier Ethernet Solutions joint venture will compete against the usual suspects of carrier Ethernet vendors, including Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent.

"The join venture's solution is the only one that offers the combined strengths of Juniper and Nokia Siemens in terms of technical expertise and market presence," Stewart said.

Manish Gulyani, senior director for business services at Alcatel-Lucent, sees a few potential issues. For one thing, Gulyani told InternetNews.com that bringing multiple product lines from different vendors under the supervision and control of a single management system is complex and time consuming.

"In addition, running different operation systems on different vendor platforms adds to the operational complexity and therefore increases the total cost of ownership of the solution," Gulyani said.

Juniper uses the JUNOS operating system across its routing equipment while NSN has its own system.

Stewart doesn't see having multiple operating systems as being an issue.

"The joint venture's Carrier Ethernet Solution features point-and-click provisioning and network management," Stewart said. "This attribute of the solution gives service providers reduced total-cost-of-ownership and operational simplicity at scale, independent of the underlying operating system of any single network element."