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Juniper Networks pushes portfolio sales in unified network management

Juniper is taking its unified portfolio approach to the next level by releasing network management that reach across all of its product sets.

Juniper Networks launched a unified network management package Monday that reaches across the company's technology sets, handling routers, switches and security products. The move is part of Juniper's continued push to get channel partners selling more integrated networking packages and fewer standalone products.

The Network and Security Manager 2008.1 (NSM), once called the NetScreen Security Manager, enables centralized management and configuration across Juniper's J-series routers, the new EX-series Ethernet switches, Secure Access SSL VPN and firewall, as well as intrusion detection and prevention appliances. The NSM also conducts network monitoring and reporting. Originally, the management tool focused mainly on security components.

The launch of NSM is coupled with the unveiling of the upgraded Unified Access Control (UAC) version 2.2, its Infranet Controller (IC) 4500 for medium-sized to large companies and IC 6500 for large multinational corporations. The UAC package controls and monitors network user access.

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Juniper's unified network management approach is in line with its overall strategy to pull together all its product sets into one smooth portfolio on the same JUNOS operating system. Juniper's top execs have consistently urged partners to move away from selling point products and into selling the entire networking portfolio -- mostly as a way to take on Cisco Systems.

Juniper's security products are not yet on the JUNOS system, but sources close to the company say they will be within a year or so. Providing a unified network management and provisioning system is an important start, they say.

"Enterprise executives that are looking to solve business problems with technology ask, 'Why should I choose Juniper?'" said Jason Gress, president of Juniper partner InterVision Systems Technologies in Santa Clara, Calif. "I think the significance of the Juniper lines coming together gives them greater credibility to penetrate enterprises."

Unified network management benefits partners in other ways too.

"For channel partners this simplifies the rollout of solutions," said Karthik Krishnan, Juniper's director of product management for access solutions.

Partners can also sell the new package on the idea that a centralized approach is more cost-effective.

With budgets being flat, it saves money to have a single application to manage all three product sets, said Sanjay Agarwal, Juniper's director of product management for network and service management. Previously, multiple management systems were necessary.

Using multiple management systems for every device also burdens the network. Agarwal said some networks have been "slow to adapt" and "limited in performance" as a result.

Much of Monday's release focused on the NSM, but the upgraded UAC also plays a central role in the unified network management and security package. The UAC centrally regulates user access to the network by monitoring assessing endpoints and user identities. The system is also able to identify malicious use and require users to remediate their actions before getting back on the network.

"You are starting to see a lot of enterprise-extended ecosystems," Krishnan said. "[Users] are coming with a large variety of devices. Consequently, security has become a key concern."

A large function of the UAC is enforcing user compliance -- and that process is customizable for specific industries and user groups. That leaves room for partners to sell accompanying services, including customizing compliance for companies on an ongoing basis and setting policy for rotating guest users over time.

"There is a fairly broad framework in supporting third-party infrastructure," Krishnan said.

The UAC 2.2 is built on open standards and can integrate with Microsoft Windows Statement of Health and its network access protection function. The IC 4500 server enables security policy control for 25 to 5,000 endpoint devices, and the 6500 can scale up to 30,000 devices.

There will be partner training programs and certifications for the UAC 2.2 and NSM 2008.1, as well as a hands-on virtual lab for the UAC 2.2. The ICs will be part of the Juniper Demo Program.

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