Juniper has always touted it’s end-to-end JUNOS operating system, but the company has more recently placed heavy focus on providing cloud computing network infrastructure, which is heavily dependent on software for automated provisioning and granular management. Muglia is no stranger to cloud computing software, having headed up infrastructure software and cloud platforms at Microsoft as one of his many roles over his 23 years there. Muglia was booted out of his position there by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer this summer.
Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson (also a former Microsoft exec) said the company will now centralize all of its software initiatives in the new division, including software for Juniper’s SRX Series, vGW Series security products, MobileNext core for mobile operators and Junos Pulse mobile device management tools.
In a comment to Network World, Muglia offers up some insight into where Juniper’s software play and its new focus on the application-driven network:
“The emergence of cloud, heterogeneous devices connecting, and applications (executing) in a much more automated state creates an opportunity to bring software into the network and connect to all devices,” he says. “Networks are configured and managed by manual processes, people with mice and keyboards, and separate from the application infrastructure. There is no way to deal with the scale of the amount of configuration changes in the network to ensure the reliability and consistency of the environment. Networks will be applications driven; applications are at the center of intelligence and business value. The infrastructure as a whole is being driven by the applications. Juniper is very well positioned to take this on with QFabric for cloud and a single operating system platform. There’s not a lot of legacy mess to clean up.”
Juniper is certainly making a good case for its cloud strategy with new technology announcements and high-level execs, but shipping actual QFabric product will be an important first step to gaining market share in the world of application-centric cloud networks.]]>
Which narrative would you like to believe?
Can they both be true? In recent years we’ve seen companies build up their networking portfolios in an effort to compete head-on with Cisco, only to make a quick exit after those efforts made them into an attractive target for acquisition.
As Henny Youngman might have said: Take my company. Please!
Remember when 3Com established H3C as a joint venture with Huawei, built up an impressive product portfolio, and then bought out Huawei’s share? Just two years ago 3Com was promising to blitz North America with the H3C brand and challenge Cisco. They were serious about the enterprise again, after abandoning their customers back in 2000. Six months later 3Com sold out to HP. Goodbye 3Com.
Remember Foundry Networks? Brocade bought the networking vendor three years ago. Brocade wanted to transform itself from a Fibre Channel networking vendor to a data center networking vendor and Foundry had the engineering talent and a loyal customer list to draw upon. Brocade has been aggressive since that acquisition, introducing its impressive new line of VDX data center switches. But acquisition rumors have swirled around the company for more than a year. And now Bloomberg is reporting that Dell had considered buying Brocade before passing over it in favor of Force10 Networks this week. Bloomberg added:
“Brocade has been looking for potential buyers with the assistance of Frank Quattrone’s Qatalyst Partners for the past two years…”
Two years… Take my company. Please!
And now we have Alcatel-Lucent (ALU), a company that has struggled in countless ways since the 2006 merger of Alcatel and Lucent. Every year or so, ALU announces that it’s going to reinvigorate its enterprise business. Every year, the effort falls flat. ALU executives emphasized the company’s latest enterprise business unit reinvigoration drive back in April when it announced a new data center network architecture that was, frankly, impressive. Yet, at the same time that they were telling me that ALU wanted to renew its enterprise focus, the Wall Street Journal was reporting that ALU was looking to sell the division. This week, ALU finally admitted that it is indeed weighing a sale.
Does anyone want to be in this business?
How are you, as a network engineer, supposed to navigate this environment? These companies work hard to earn your business. They develop good products, they invest heavily in sales and marketing, they prove themselves with technical support. They help you build your networks with their products, and then they sell out to the highest bidder leaving you with the uncertainty of dealing with a new vendor. Nortel customers found themselves transformed into Avaya customers. Foundry into Brocade. 3Com into HP. Force10 into Dell.
Most engineers play it safe. They stick with Cisco, which owns the market and isn’t going anywhere. HP Networking appears to be the safest alternative for longevity in the networking industry that we’ve seen in a long time. But things can change. CEOs turn over. Shareholders get restless.
Maybe things would be different if the global economy weren’t such a mess. But that’s the world we’re living in. The Great Recession is still in full swing, but the world still needs networks. So here you are. There are a dozen vendors out there asking you to choose them over Cisco. A lot of them make great products. Some of them make Cisco nervous. But some of them are eager to make an exit, and that’s a a risk you need to consider.
When a company exits the market, it usually argues, rightly or wrongly, that its customers will be better off with the new owner of the business. Force10 customers will benefit from the Dell deal, they say. Foundry customers have benefited from the Brocade deal, they insist. Avaya has done right by Nortel customers, they promise. All that could be true. But it’s not a guaranteed happy ending when your preferred network vendor sells out. If you were doing business with 3Com 12 years ago, you know how it feels when a company dumps you.]]>
Just days after the conclusion of Cisco Live, the company’s annual customer conference where William Shatner delivered a keynote and Grammy-winning band Train played a private show for attendees, Cisco Systems confirmed today that it will cut 6,500 jobs from its global operation. An early retirement program will account for 2,100 of the lost jobs. The rest are layoffs, apparently. This represents a 9% reduction in Cisco’s full-time workforce.
Cisco noted that “15% of vice president level and above” employees will get the axe in this move, signaling that Cisco trying to streamline its management structure (and perhaps cut some of its higher paid employees by targeting executive suites).
Cisco also removed an additional 5,000 jobs from its payroll by selling an old Scientific Atlanta cable set-top box factory based in Mexico to Foxconn Technology Group. This move amounts to Cisco outsourcing the manufacturing of set-top boxes to a third-party in order to reduce costs.
These moves are part of Cisco’s “Comprehensive Action Plan” for simplifying the company, improving corporate focus on core businesses and reducing annual operating expenses. As part of that plan, CEO John Chambers laid out a goal earlier this year to reduce expenses by $1 billion. I presume that hiring Shatner and Train to appear at Cisco Live last week was just a drop in that billion-dollar bucket. Still, as you were swaying to the sweet, sweet melody of “Hey Soul Sister” did you think about how that Grammy-worthy performance was probably costing someone a job?]]>
Mike Banic, HP Networking’s vice president of marketing, told me today that HP is taking share from Cisco because of its architectural approach. Most notably, HP’s FlexNetwork architecture, which the company articulated at Interop Las Vegas. A key tenet of this architecture: Use beefy, feature rich core switches to flatten the network and eliminate the aggregation layer in both your data center and campus LAN, thus reducing capital outlays and operational expenses.
Banic said HP’s market share rose 2.5 points to 12% of revenue in the Layer 2/3 switching market, according to Dell’Oro’s market research. Banic claims this gain came at Cisco’s expense. Cisco’s shared declined to 68.2% from 73.1% a year ago. Banic also highlighted that HP enjoyed modest gains in both the wireless LAN and the enterprise routing markets.
Aside from the TCO savings of HP’s architecture, Banic said customers are also attracted to HP’s integrated security (via the Tipping Point brand it acquired with 3Com), a consistency of user experience across devices, lower prices, lifetime warranties on some product lines, and its Intelligent Management Center (IMC), a 3Com-based network management platform that is notably capable of managing a large number of third-party network devices, including hundreds of Cisco products.
Banic said both major HP Networking product lines (the 3Com/H3c products and its home-grown ProCurve products) are seeing growth. While HP has gained on Cisco in recent quarters, Cisco’s market share remains dominant. Also, networking pros appear satisfied with most of Cisco’s products. SearchNetworking.com recently surveyed its readers about their recent buying habits and attitudes toward Cisco and its competitors. The survey revealed that the majority of self-identified Cisco customers are satisfied with Cisco today, but they are willing to consider another vendors’ products. They identified Juniper and HP as the two top vendors they are looking at. Sixty percent of Cisco customers who said they replaced Cisco products with competitors’ gear in part of their network identified price competition as the top consideration in their decision.]]>