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The future is network apps: Juniper

For network company Juniper, the future of network systems is an app-based environment, just like the iPhone.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

For network company Juniper, the future of network systems is an app-based environment, just like the iPhone.

In highlighting Juniper's "new network" model at the Juniper Networks Partner Summit in Sydney yesterday, Spencer Greene, Juniper's global vice president for Junos Operations, said that the network industry was very much like the mobile phone environment had been before the iPhone — a closed platform with limited development.

Developing one hardware system to suit each individual company created "enormous complexity", he said.

Juniper has invested over $1 billion in research and development over the past few years to develop a single operating system on a single network system on which these apps could be built, according to Greene. Through the Junos Space open ecosystem network platform, customers can then pick and choose third-party applications or even develop their own to suit their network as required.

"It's an open platform approach, gathering a collection of partners and people who can create additional value to the system," he said.

The project first began when the company made a number of acquisitions of other network companies back in 2002 and 2003.

"We had a number of acquisitions before we figured out the strategy for the company and when you do acquisitions like that you end up with a lot of different technology platforms," he said.

He said the time in moving to one platform had been costly for the company.

"The biggest thing was first figuring out whether this was the right way to go and then making the investments to getting to the one Junos. We made this huge investment over the past few years to consolidate those technologies, it was a cost we had to absorb," he said.

"During the time we did that, we were making that great investment in this commonality, but if we had not done that we would have been able to do more features and products during that time. We made this deliberate strategy choice to put the rest into the consolidation of technology.

"Now we've emerged from that, we have the one Junos product line across the whole portfolio. We can now turn up the rate of introducing new products and features with this commonality underneath it."

Green admitted that while the open platform model allowing third-party development is a good move for Juniper, it might not work for every type of business.

"A lot of people are trying in a lot of industries and spaces to be doing things like this," he said. "You have to have enough breadth of portfolio and enough depth of penetration in the market and the right kind of tools for enablement."

"Some will look at this business model enviously and say 'yeah we wish we could do this'," he said." Some industries have the right attributes and some don't."

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