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How new is Juniper's 'New Network'?

The devil's in the wireless details

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Juniper Networks had a lot to show last week during its "New Network" launch, billed as its most significant event since its founding in 1996. Covering new data center kit, software, and partnerships, the rollout even occasioned a fresh Juniper logo and promises of a new vision of networking going forward to next decade.

But Juniper's vision is still not wholly complete. There remains some notable questions and gaps in its plan — with some that remain from the company's "old" strategy.

Junos Space: How to win third-parties and influence customers

The crown jewel of Juniper's marketing message is still Junos, the company's single operating system that spans its entire portfolio of hardware. Its "New Network" plan now includes Junos Space, an open platform for ISVs to develop applications running on Junos. Yet the company's showing of Space seemed to be rather lacking a compelling third-party developer story.

Space was shown to include three pre-loaded applications: Ethernet Activator, an app that Junos said will let customers quickly create and activate services; Service Now, which automatically forwards troubleshooting details to Juniper; and Route Analyzer, an MPLS route analyzer. Only the last was developed outside of Juniper — and by Packet Design, a firm that Juniper invested $2m into last year.

Juniper seems to have an uphill battle ahead of it to attract a sizable community of third-party developers to Space. Cisco already has its competing Application eXtension Platform (AXP), along with a much larger install base to woo devs into the fold. Juniper has an interesting vision here, but needs to show how third-parties are taking advantage of Space.

Mike Banic, veep of Enterprise Marketing at Juniper, argues that the market for network-centric apps for automation and orchestration will compel developers to Junos Space.

"The only thing that makes it possible for them to attract a larger customer base is if there is an open standard way of orchestrating more than just the components they can control," he said. "By opening up Junos, it actually is very inviting to the third-party developer community where a lot of money will be invested."

Banic adds that higher education is one area where a lot customers are using Junos Space products in a more significant way.

And perhaps it's too early in the network app game to call a winner.

"I would say AXP is a little ahead of Space only in that they've got some third-party ISVs they can point to with some success stories. But there are very few," said Zeus Kerravala, analyst and senior VP of the Yankee Group. "If this was a marathon, I'd say Juniper is at mile one — but Cisco is only at mile two. It has a slight lead, but there's a way to go."

Kerravala said that based on developer feedback he's heard, neither Cisco nor Juniper are easy to work with.

"They have to be willing to share the spotlight and be ecosystem-led," he said. "Part of the reason Microsoft is so successful was because it was the application vendors that drive them. This, in essence, is an operating system story — they're creating a platform for other developers to build on. It's a different go-to-market model than these companies have had in the past, where Juniper and Cisco have been the primary thing people buy, not the applications.

Banic told us that Juniper does have an aggressive plan to roll out more applications, and will announce in 2010 how it's going to make it increasingly easier for third-party developers to work with Junos Space.

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