Juniper Ramping Up to Take on Cisco

LAS VEGAS. In this town where gambling is a way a life, there comes a point where you lay your cards on the table to show your opponents what you’ve got. That’s what Juniper Networks did at the NXTcomm trade show with its top service provider executives detailing to press and analysts their strategy to win the carrier networking game.

Table stakes in this game though aren’t for the feint of heart. According to Infonetics Research, in 2007 service provider router and switch sales hit an all time high of $11.2 billion. In 2007 Cisco was number one with Juniper (NASDAQ: JNPR) coming in at number two.

“Everyone is trying to deliver a more cost effective network,” said Kim Perdikou, Executive Vice President, Infrastructure Products Group and General Manager, Service Provider Business Team at Juniper. “Infrastructure is a utility and minimizing the cost per bit for transporting IP is critical to success.”

Perdikou formerly served as the CIO of Juniper and now runs their service provider business. She noted that a few years ago the question used to be about where intelligence should sit in the network. She now believes that the intelligence has to be across the whole ecosystem with intelligence devices and networks.

“Our customers have intelligence in the network that they have never leveraged,” Perdikou commented. “Telecom providers know who the user is. That identity information is critical for business models, since once you understand who the user is and what service they are trying to access a provider can deliver the service and get the user to pay for it.”

Perdikou argued that network intelligence on user identity is a very different model of monetization than a Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), which makes its money from clicks without knowing who the user really is.

“What is the arch of the network we need to build?” Perdikou asked rhetorically. “We’ve always done the packet handling layer but now we’re expanding into other areas. We don’t deliver services but we need to help service providers to deliver services.”

Access to intelligence

For Juniper, policy and control is the glue that enables services to be delivered faster. The focus for Juniper now is on helping providers open up their networks so they can get access to the intelligence that is in the network.

“Is this any different than anyone else? ” Perdikou asked. “No it’s not but we have some foundation differentiators.”

Perdikou explained that Juniper’s movement towards a single operating system is a key differentiator. Juniper plans to standardize all of its equipment on the JUNOS (Juniper Network Operating System) operating system to simplify management and offer a common platform for service development. Juniper currently also uses Linux on its IDP 8200 high-end security platform which was announced back in April.

Mark Bauhaus, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Service Layer Technology Business Group at Juniper, explained to that the plan for the IDP is to move to JUNOS at some point in the future.

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Perdikou noted that Juniper makes JUNOS extensible by way of the Juniper Networks’ Partner Solution Development Platform (PSDP) which allows third parties to develop and deploy software on JUNOS. Among the vendors that are part of the PSDP are IBM, NEC, and NTT.

Juniper’s prime competitor, Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO), also has a degree of openness for its users. Earlier this year Cisco launched the AXP module which lets Cisco customers run Linux applications on top of a Cisco ISR (integrated services router).

Juniper VP Opher Kahane noted that Juniper is also making progress in the market with its core routing unit especially with its flagship T1600 terabit router which debuted at NXTcomm in 2007. The T1600 competes against Cisco’s CRS-1 platform.

Customers know the services they want to build,” Perdikou said. “It’s about building them faster and getting to market faster.”

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