I was in New York yesterday to attend Juniper Networks' big product introduction. If you haven't heard, Juniper announced a new line of Ethernet switches, from small access switches to big data center and core switches.
While I believe this is very good news for Juniper, I couldn't help but overhear some of the lugubrious pontifications of other industry and financial analysts. I expect the "glass half full" crowd to say things like:
1. Big deal, there are already a lot of Ethernet switching companies, so Juniper is just piling onto an existing market. This isn't about Ethernet switching; it's about end-to-end Juniper networks. Don't get me wrong, if I were a Juniper sales rep and one of my customers wanted to buy a few switches, I'd gladly take the business. That said, Juniper can now offer its value from edge to core and compete with Cisco Systems on big enterprise deals.
2. Even with Ethernet switching, Juniper still can't match Cisco's product portfolio. This is true but also fairly obvious. With this type of logic, IBM would have been the only IT company ever, since Sun Microsystems, Oracle, and EMC had product gaps of their own. Ethernet switches really elevate Juniper's reach but the company remains especially careful to pick the right battles and team up with others where it can supplement its internal efforts. To demonstrate this, Juniper made sure it went to New York with partners IBM, Microsoft, and Oracle--a pretty good lineup if you ask me.
3. Juniper has no presence in the enterprise. This assertion is based upon history rather than fact. A few years ago Juniper had a very small enterprise footprint but with the acquisition of vendors such as NetScreen (security) and Peribit (network/application/WAN acceleration), it has steadily gained traction. Now it has another killer product to push to existing customers and new prospects.
4. Juniper should have bought an existing Ethernet switching vendor rather than reinvent an old product. Juniper looked at this option but decided that the benefits of an internal effort outweighed the acquisition route. One of Juniper's core strengths is its JUNOS operating system. By rolling its own switches, it has one operating system across its entire networking portfolio, so its value proposition and software control remains intact. This will help the company sell end-to-end Juniper networks, not a bunch of piece parts.
I don't get the doom and gloom here. Overall, Juniper really expanded its total addressable market and individual deal opportunities. What's more, the company has a lot more flexibility to develop its own software or partner with other market leaders. Of course it has to execute but if I were a Juniper enterprise sales rep, I'd be doing backflips today.