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Juniper dangles $50m carrot over Junos

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Juniper Networks is dangling a $50 million venture capital carrot over startups willing to focus on building software and applications for the Junos operating system.

The $50m VC fund expands on Juniper's recent efforts to push its network application platform, Junos Space to third-party developers, including the creation of a Junos Ready Software business group dedicated to the pitching and certification. The company also began licensing Junos to other hardware vendors to bake into their own systems.

Juniper announced the $50m venture capital grab-bag on Tuesday during its financial analyst meeting in San Francisco, California.

The company said it's scouting for early and "growth-stage" venture backed firms over the next two years that will complement its roadmap and efforts to pad the coffers. Key areas of investment are network, application, and services that foster security infrastructure, mobility, video, virtualization, network automation, optical technology, and "green" networking.

"We want to nurture them and help them be successful," said Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson at the analyst shindig. "Our customers benefit, our partners benefit, and Juniper will benefit."

Since last October when Juniper debuted its "new network" identity and roadmap, the company has been pitching a blending of what it called the "hard separation" between service providers and enterprise customers under the unifying banner of IP. It hopes Junos, the OS cooked into all its networking products, will be the platform to promote the scheme.

Juniper said it has experience tucking network startups under its wing (branches?), and it currently has investments in 11 companies. Two examples are Akeena Networks, which contributes its Media Flow Director Software, and Blade Network Technologies, which makes Junos-based blade 10-Gigabit Ethernet switches for OEMs like IBM, HP, and NEC. ®

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