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Risk

11/1/2009
09:23 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Global CIO: Juniper Attacks Cisco Head-On With Help Of IBM And Dell

Sensing Cisco is distracted with its non-networking ventures as CIOs are growing unhappy with rising network costs, Juniper is going after Cisco full-bore with key new products and partners.

With its logo splashed five stories high across the New York Stock Exchange as it launched a sweeping set of new technologies, Juniper Networks last week also launched a full-frontal assault on Cisco for networking supremacy and for the hearts and wallets of CIOs.

Pushing the idea that IT organizations are confronted by rising networking costs even as the workload for networks is about to soar, Juniper is looking to position itself as offering not only a more forward-looking and more-powerful technology strategy but also a more-compelling set of capabilities via its recent and extensive partnerships with IBM and Dell.

While Cisco is expanding aggressively outside of the networking space and into mainstream computing via its Unified Computing System, Juniper believes that its sweeping set of new networking products and technologies—analyzed insightfully here late last week by my colleague Mike Fratto—plus the virtualization and data-center expertise it gains via its alliances with IBM and Dell give it the perfect opportunity to go head-on against Cisco the top spot in networking.

It's a risky bet. While it's possible that Cisco's ventures into storage and servers could diminish its focus on its core networking leadership and thereby create a gap for Juniper to exploit, it is equally possible that Cisco's new model—bundled and interlaced servers and storage and networking—will capture the fancy of CIOs and relegate Juniper and its network-centric approach to that of a very solid but very narrow point-product supplier.

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And so it is that chief marketing officer Lauren Flaherty is leading Juniper's effort to articulate the power of her company's ability to drive business value via the new network technologies that make it easier for developers to and even customers to create applications running on the Junos operating system, and that transcend traditional networking infrastructure by cramming more power and speed into silicon and thereby allow Juniper to claim that it will be able to offer vastly greater performance for significantly lower costs.

"Lots of our customers and prospects have been telling us that 60% or even 70% of their networking expenses were tied up in op-ex (operating expense)," said Flaherty, who spent 26 years in marketing and business management at IBM before joing Nortel in 2006 and then Juniper this year. "We can cut that—dramatically."

Flaherty, in the midst of a 24-hour product-introduction event based at and around the facilities of new Juniper customer NYSE, said that 30 CIOs and CTOs of very large global companies told Juniper executives during the event that "they need more value out of their networks—they said they've hit a tipping point where the cost of running the network is exceeding the business value that's coming out of the network. And clearly that's unacceptable."

And that expensive imbalance, Flaherty said, is fully visible to the entire C-suite because the brutal global economy of the past 18 months has raised awareness among CEOs, CFOs, LOB heads of not only the critical nature of their global networks but also of their steadily rising costs.

"Then when you add in video and the prospect of so much more of it over the next year or two, plus the huge volumes of data from machine-to-machine exchanges as the world gets jammed full of intelligent sensors and devices, you can foresee an unprecedented growth in the demands being placed on the network," Flaherty said.

"So we decided to put a stake in the ground with a whole new approach with our "new network" that is totally open and offers massive simplicity."

Networking-industry analyst Zeus Karravalos offered this mixed review of the Juniper launch:

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