I attended Juniper’s analyst day at its impressive new Sunnyvale, CA headquarters along with Jon Oltsik…
CEO Kevin Johnson put Juniper’s progress into perspective: for the five year (recessionary) period 2008-2013, Juniper grew its enterprise business from $800M to $1.6B per year and now counts over 20,000 enterprise customers, gained by expanding beyond high performance routing into security, switching, data center, and wireless LAN. In the service provider space, Juniper has grown from $2B to $2.8B during the same period. Juniper believes the industry is at a key inflection point due to SDN, which is currently subject to inflated market expectations. However, Juniper says it's prepared, thanks in part to its Contrail acquisition (but of course will interoperate with any OpenFlow based controllers). Juniper’s current customer pitch is to change the decision of networking performance vs. agility to having it both with Juniper.
CTO and Founder Pradeep Sindhu did a chalk-talk on why x86 general purpose processors are fine for Layer 4-7 processing but inefficient for Layer 1-3 when compared with network processors/ASICs such as Juniper’s Trio chipsets. Juniper estimates for L3 packet processing, x86 GPUs would be 15X the cost and 20X the power, and cited even worse multiples for L2 and L1. To address the network providers’ challenge to deliver more bandwidth without more revenue, Juniper suggests greater automation for Opex reduction via SDN and NFV architectures.
These were followed by several satisfied customer presentations that highlighted Juniper use cases. Break-out sessions with other executives and line managers provided a peak into their current development efforts and upcoming product releases.
The following day as if on cue, Juniper arch-rival Cisco announced the CRS-X, a core router upgrade, but back to Juniper…
In perspective, Juniper’s progress during a difficult macroeconomic period is impressive, but doesn’t necessarily extrapolate all that far forward, even as compelling as Juniper’s L1-3 x 86 inefficiency story might be (note to self: follow-up with Intel on their x86 efficiency for L1-3 processing story). Rather this analyst thinks the industry at large, so accustomed to vendors taking the lead with their vision and roadmaps, is missing what could be service providers’ cost-effective, traffic scaling SDN killer-app: IP Offload. Think “switch when you can, route when you must” (I’ll explain further in a future blog post).
Eager to scale without having to increase broadband pricing, it was the service providers who initiated the Open Network Forum (ONF) and ETSI Network Function Virtualization (NFV) efforts. So the dogs are finally wagging the tails, and the tails (vendors), including Juniper, are paying attention. In this public network new order, Juniper is competitively positioned with Ethernet switches, security, optical, data center, and Contrail SDN, but IMHO, could use to bolster its go-to-market and ecosystem relationships with technology and channel partners.
In the enterprise market, business agility does in fact resonate, particularly when IT agility can drive market share gains. I can offer no hard data that Juniper’s enterprise solutions are both agile and high performance, but they did offer customers that said so.
I went to Juniper’s event thinking about the "elephant in the room," namely the logical next steps for new and incumbent players in a rapidly converging information and communications technology (ICT) marketplace. I left more confident Juniper has what it takes to stay in the race, particularly if it can up its execution game.