Juniper Networks eyes bigger role for India hitting 10th anniversary

A decade since the opening of its India Excellence Center, staff numbers have grown from 10 to 2,300. The India business is now eyeing a bigger global role, such as managing the manufacturing in China.

BANGALORE--Juniper Networks's Indian R&D resources have grown from ten employees that worked out of an office in April 2003 to 2,300 employees that support the company's various initiatives.

Sridhar Sarathy, managing director of its India Excellence Center (IEC), told ZDNet this includes 1,700 engineering workers and the remainder manage the global organization's financial, back office and call center infrastructure .

Juniper Indian Engineering Centre (IEC) MD Sridhar Sarathy
Sridhar Sarathy, managing director of India Excellence Center at Juniper Networks.

The IEC is the largest such facility outside the headquarters in Sunnyvale, California, representing about 40 percent of the networking gear manufacturer's R&D resources, and constitutes about a quarter of its global workforce.

When Juniper established the IEC a decade ago, executives consciously decided that it would not simply be a backwater facility to test products. For example, they would not just conduct regression testing to check whether new features affect existing functions, Sarathy said.
The company decided that it would engineer hardware and software products in India. "Typically what companies have tended to do in India in the past is testing, because it has a high impact but relatively low risk," he said.
"What we set out to do from the beginning was that we're going to create an infrastructure, and also hire people, that lends itself towards product ownership," added Sarathy.
It took just nine months before the IEC hit its first major milestone; they contributed a feature to a release of the Junos operating system , which powers all of Juniper's products .
"The first two to three months were not exactly productive. Engineering staff were trying to set up and get legal and compliance," Sarathy said.
While it was a significant achievement, he said that within three years the IEC stopped counting the number of features or lines of codes it contributed. Sarathy added this stopped that once they got to the point where they were part of the fundamental product development.
"The challenge initially was to reassure people their investments in India are being put to productive use and that we're as efficient as anyone else," he said.
When asked about headcount growth plans , the Juniper executive said India would continue to constitute 30 to 40 percent of the global workforce.
"What is more important is that we may take up more of the other operations not already done in India, for example managing the manufacturing in China ," Sarathy said.