How new is Juniper's 'New Network'?

The devil's in the wireless details

Where's the wireless?

Glaringly absent from Juniper's announcement were details on the company's wireless LAN strategy. Rumor is that Juniper is developing its own WLAN solution internally, but it won't be ready until next year. This amidst a series of acquisitions among rivals, such as Cisco's $2.9bn deal to buy the wireless technology firm, Starnet.

Could Juniper's tried-and-true plan of having everything work under Junos be keeping the company shy of making its own necessary acquisitions to expand its portfolio in time?

"The 802.11n standard was ratified just a couple of months ago," said Kerravala. "If Juniper had acquired Aruba six months ago when Aruba was really cheap, they would be in the 802.11n space right now. What may happen now is that a lot of the early adopters are going to buy a Cisco or Aruba. Juniper would miss the entire early adopter wave. The single OS is a great vision to have, but not to the detriment of product integration."

Juniper's Banic said it's understandable there is criticism of its reluctance to make acquisitions at the pace of others, but claims the company's decisions are based on getting value out of the purchase rather than Junos compatibility.

"Wireless is definitely something we have our eye on," he said. "We see that wireless LAN fits into an over-arching mobility strategy that enterprise customers have. Right now, we're balancing our priorities on things that we can invest in over periods of time that are aligned with customer need — and are appropriate with the R&D and expense that we can make on an annual basis."

Unified Fabric, MIA too

Also significantly missing from Juniper's announcement last week were details on its unified fabric strategy, first promised last winter under the code-name "Stratus."

Stratus is supposed to be Juniper's answer to Cisco's Unified Computing System that ties virtualized servers, networks, and storage into a single data center fabric.

Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson said at the event that the company was "meeting milestones" in development but couldn't disclose release dates.

"The lack of Stratus is huge to me," said Kerravala. "To me, what they announced at the event was, 'This was our vision six months ago. It's still our vision today.' And that was it."

Kerravala adds that a unified fabric would be a natural fit for Juniper around its value proposition of high performance and reliability.

"The faster they can come up with some details around what they're going to announce and when, the better it will be for them," he said.

Juniper tells us that Stratus simply wasn't something that it planned on talking about during the event because it wanted to focus on products and partnerships that were ready.

Evidently, much of what makes Juniper's "New Network" so new is still yet to come. Cisco, at least seems to relish that. When asked to comment, a Cisco spokesman said the company wouldn't provide comparison comments — but then added, "our leadership has been pretty clear: first to market with industry standards-based unified fabric capabilities, and first to market with unified computing.

However, given that a good portion of customers buy Juniper because it's cheaper than Cisco — and not because it has a terrific plan — maybe fuzzy details are enough. ®

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