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Juniper eyes midmarket, aims for Cisco

update With new partner and product launches, Juniper Networks sets eyes on new markets, particularly those dominated by market leader Cisco Systems.
Written by Victoria Ho, Contributor

update Going by a slew of announcements the company unveiled this week, Juniper Networks appears to have set its eyes on new markets, in particular, segments currently dominated by market leader, Cisco Systems.

The networking equipment manufacturer inked a new OEM (original equipment manufacturer) agreement with Dell Computer, where the PC maker will market, resell and support Juniper's networking gear to businesses.

The partnership will allow Dell to sell packaged product sets bundled with its own storage and servers, to data center customers looking for a one-stop shop arrangement with the vendor.

Cisco earlier this year also entered the server hardware business with its "unified computing" drive. It announced in March a set of blade servers, and in June a rack-mount server system combining network, compute and virtualization components.

Juniper is also introducing a new chipset and revamped software platform. The new processors will be part of a new "Trio" product family built into line cards, and are touted to be capable of doubling the bandwidth offered by equipment available in the market today.

Lam Chee Keong, enterprise solutions marketing manager, Asia-Pacific at Juniper, told ZDNet Asia in an interview the modular chipset will be found in its new MX-3D line cards, and allow for its MX-series of ethernet routers to take on smaller form factors.

A new MX80 router will take up an eighth of the space of the competition, allowing more to be packed into a data center, said Lam.

Juniper will also be opening up a new platform in hopes of attracting third-party development on its Junos networking operating system.

To jumpstart the new development it coins Junos Space, the company will release three applications along with the platform's debut. One of the apps, called Route Analyzer, will seek out bottlenecks to optimize paths between data centers.

Junos Space is aimed at the building of GUI-based apps for easier network management and automating tasks, he added.

"We hope it will remove the tedium associated with some network management tasks," he said, elaborating that these include typical command line tasks that could otherwise be transformed into a drag-and-drop command, for example.

Juniper is also expecting its hardware partners to release apps to ease management of their hardware. For example, a virtualization vendor could build an app that would automate the moving of virtual machines across routers, by automatically activating the necessary ethernet connector and closing the connection after the movement complete, said Lam.

Heightened midmarket push
These announcements make apparent Juniper's sights on a piece of the midmarket pie, currently dominated by Cisco.

Lam said on paper, the OEM partnership would open paths for Juniper to sell its new networking gear to service providers already running Dell equipment embedded with Juniper networking parts. The partnership with Dell, which has been "particularly successful in the midmarket with low-cost servers" provides a new route to market for Juniper, which has "traditionally focused on large enterprises".

"The fastest way to extend [Juniper's] reach would be through partnerships," he said.

While the new products are targeted at service providers, Lam expects interest from enterprises to be high as well. "Enterprise [data centers] have the same service level uptime requirements as many service providers too.

"And smaller enterprises are beginning to require high-scalability [networking equipment] too," he said.

The hardware and software upgrades announced are also a step toward Juniper's "Stratus" cloud project. It said earlier this year it would partner with other companies to develop a converged data center fabric to compete with Cisco's efforts.

Juniper's eventual cloud products won't look very different from the equipment announced, said Lam. "It will just be on the communication layer between hardware and software components and [include] robust virtualization."

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