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.
"Overall my biggest question for Juniper is how a mid sized company like Juniper competes long term in this ever evolving industry. The majority of Juniper’s competitive environment is huge multifaceted companies like Alcatel Lucent, Cisco, Huawei and others. These companies go to market with a unified wired, wireless and services solution and Juniper, at its size, can’t compete along those lines. The enterprise space has Cisco and HP as well as smaller organizations that are very deep in a certain area (like Brocade in the data center). Juniper again, falls somewhere in the middle. Juniper is too small and doesn’t have the right mindset to grow significantly through acquisition but it’s too big to be an acquisition candidate for all but a few companies, most of which have too much competitive overlap. So for now, the vision of what Juniper announced is fine, but all of us Juniper watchers will be looking to see how quickly they can get there."

As noted earlier in this column, that's certainly the top question: does Juniper have the impact and the clout to sway the thinking of initially dozens and then hundreds of CIOs who, faced with enhancing or even rebuilding their indispensable global networks, will need to know that their networking vendor is unshakably strong in its strategy, its product line, its operations, and its finances?

Enter the alliances with IBM and Dell. Here's Juniper executive vice-president Gerri Elliott on the Juniper-IBM alliance from a blog post she wrote a few months ago:

"IBM will brand and resell Juniper products as part of their overall data center networking portfolio. This OEM relationship is part of our joint strategic and long-term plan to bring Juniper's High-Performance Networking solutions to IBM's enterprise customers. We expect the first IBM branded Juniper products to ship in Q409. . . . IBM and Juniper share a common vision of the data center of the future. Our two companies have been working together in varying capacities to achieve this vision, including the Stratus Project—our initiative to create a single data center fabric that will deliver a quantum leap in scale, performance and simplicity. Additionally, we are researching cloud computing security models to mitigate attacks on corporate data and computer systems."

And here's an overview of what the Juniper-Dell partnership is expected to offer to CIOs, via Zacks Investment Research:

". . . the companies are also planning to work together on standards-based solutions for virtualized data centers . . . . Going forward, Dell will shoulder the responsibility of marketing, servicing and support of networking solutions from Juniper to business entities of different sizes like large enterprise, Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) and Public Sector Organization.

"We believe this joint networking solution from Dell and Juniper will provide significant challenge to Cisco Systems Inc. Some of the equipment from Juniper competes with the market leader Cisco but also with equipment offered by Brocade Communications Systems Inc. Diversification is clearly the key strategy, by which the large enterprises are growing their business portfolio across the globe. We believe that Dell and Juniper will form a great team to offer enhanced networking solutions to the end customer."

Will CIOs be willing to listen? Will they take a chance on the power and promise of Juniper's new technologies and its new and enhanced alliances with IBM and Dell? According to CMO Flaherty, Juniper is planning to do everything in its power to make that happen at the CIO level.

"We know we've had the hearts and minds of the network administrators, and we will continue to love them and meet their needs," Flaherty said. "But we also realize that these days, with the demands companies are placing on their networks, we need to hit higher up the organization as well with business-decision makers at the level of the CIO and the CEO and the CFO. We've got to position ourselves as a strategic player, and then deliver with the products that make that happen."

More choices, more focus, more partners, more competition—sounds like just what CIOs need across the entire IT landscape in 2010.

GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

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