Uncommon Wisdom

Apr 19 2011   1:41PM GMT

Looking behind Juniper’s new Emerging Technologies executive hire

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

While we don’t typically cover management changes and executive hires, I do think it’s significant that Juniper has announced a new VP (from Cisco) in a new position. Nawaf Bitar has been brought in as senior vice president and general manager of Emerging Technologies, which Juniper describes as focusing on the intersection of software and systems. The reason this is interesting to me is that Juniper has demonstrated excellent engineering, and in Junos Space and Junos overall, insight in the creation of a software layer in networking.

Juniper has under-exploited its assets, though, and as a result risked being pre-empted by a player with less reality but more sex appeal. With the service provider market finally demonstrating some service-layer deployments (Verizon’s Digital Media Service most recently) it’s clear that Juniper’s rivals won’t be quiet for long.

Juniper’s number one rival isn’t Cisco, it’s Alcatel-Lucent, and that company is said to be exploring the sell-off of its enterprise communications business. But Cisco’s not out of the story; it might well be essentially doing the same thing in a different way.

There are strong signs that Cisco wants to push its own unified communications and collaboration products through service provider channels rather than directly to the enterprise. The UC space has been troubled essentially from its moment of birth, one of those “it-will-be-next-year” kind of markets. The problem is that what’s driving UC is the commoditization of voice over IP (VoIP), and you don’t get very far asking enterprises to capitalize a declining space. UC-as-a-service has been the inevitable winner, but of course PBX incumbents never wanted to hear that. They hear it now.

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