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5 things Juniper must do to reignite growth

Jim Duffy | Oct. 30, 2012
Juniper Networks needs better marketing and execution, among other things, to turn its fortunes around.

" Speaking of QFabric, another way for Juniper to turn things around would be to sell more of the data center switches. With heavy promotion but light sales, QFabric has been a disappointment, despite proclamations to the contrary from Juniper officials. In the same two-year timeframe that Juniper gathered 200 QFabric customers, Brocade landed 700 for its competing VDX fabric switches. The majority of QFabric customers have only the top-of-rack "node" switch deployed and Juniper waves off any attempt to determine the number of full QFabric node/interconnect implementations. CEO Johnson, though, says Q3 saw more "activity" in QFabric interconnects and directors than in nodes, which dominated previous quarters. Could the slow uptick be due to QFabric's proprietary nature? Or its complexity? Says longtime Juniper watcher Nikos Theodosopoulos, founder of consultancy NT Advisors LLC, in his blog: "There ... continues to be doubt on how successful the Q-Fabric product will be given its lack of significant revenue traction in the past few quarters, increasing competition in this segment of the market and the potential overhang that the open standards Software Defined Networking (SDN) architecture poses to the originally closed Q-Fabric offering. Juniper mentioned on their call that SDN is a key area of focus for the company, and it is likely the company will focus its efforts in the future to make the Q-Fabric more open and less reliant on the originally planned closed Juniper Q-Fabric controller."

" Which leads to another goal for Juniper in its effort to reignite growth: articulate a comprehensive and compelling SDN strategy. Juniper is the only major (or minor, for that matter) switching vendor that has not been vocally proactive in detailing its SDN strategy. Dribs and drabs have leaked out at trade shows in Japan and financial analyst conferences; but Juniper has not proactively announced and marketed to as wide an audience as possible a comprehensive strategy for harnessing SDN technologies across its key markets or domains. Network World did get wind of a plan to implement it in data centers; and this week during a Q3 conference call, Juniper said it plans to put OpenFlow 1.3 on its MX routers, and EX and QFabric switches next year. Also, Juniper has said that its QFabric switches and Junos software strategy embrace the programmable "principles" of SDN. But where's the actual strategy? What's next after the data center, and why? Where's the differentiation from Cisco ONE, or Brocade's SDN plan, or HP's, or Arista's SDCN? How will Juniper mix and match the QFabric controller with the many others it plans to support on the market, including the open source one it says it wants to champion as a de facto standard? Speculation has it that Juniper's product challenges, predominantly in QFabric, have postponed its SDN story -- or that it hasn't come up with one yet. Says CEO Johnson in the Q3 conference call: "We initially demonstrated OpenFlow on the MX in 2011, and this year we extended that to the EX. We will have a productized version of OpenFlow 1.3 on the MX, EX and QFabric next year so that our data center solutions can inter-operate with these many SDN controllers that are being built. We are actively engaging with several customers on the use cases where we think SDN can deliver the most value. We have a solution that is architected with SDN principles in QFabric, running in many customers' data centers today. We continue to gain traction with customers as we build out our feature sets. We are also building SDN APIs including OpenFlow into our systems, and as we do this throughout our product road map, we are continuing to evolve the portfolio. We think we're making pretty good progress."


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