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Juniper data center strategy dominates talk at J-partner Summit

Juniper executives pumped up the Juniper data center strategy at the annual J-partner summit.

LAS VEGAS -- There is a decidedly strong theme at the Juniper Networks J-Partner Summit here this week: Partners must be ready to provide networking for the data center and serve the distributed enterprise.

One could drop the name of almost any networking vendor next to that message these days. The twist on Juniper's strategy is the promise to make it all happen for less money with fewer devices, a single operating system and simpler management. The key is cutting operational expenses, according to Juniper.

"There are some key trends driving data center transformation of the future. Enterprise customers are reengineering their data centers, centralizing their computing and storage, and taking advantage of virtualization on their servers. All of these trends are leading to an opportunity in the area of high-performance networking," said Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson in his first J-Partner Summit keynote address. He joined the company in September after a long stint at Microsoft.

"By the year 2012, that addressable market is over $50 billion," Johnson said. "You're a big part of capturing that $50 billion, but for every $1 invested in equipment, there are $2 or $3 invested in the services that go toward enabling it. That's another $100 to $150 billion."

Just before the invitation-only partner summit kicked off Monday -- and right in time for the Interop show also in Las Vegas this week -- Juniper launched a super-powered Ethernet switch, the EX 8216, aimed at cloud computing that handles up to 12.4 terabits of throughput. The 16-slot EX 8216 tops off the EX Ethernet switch line, which also recently saw the addition of a low-end switch.

Johnson: Juniper will be true to networking roots

Its data center push notwithstanding, Johnson promised that Juniper would stay focused on high-performance networking. Taking a jab at Cisco's recent push into data center servers, Johnson warned that Juniper would remain a "pure-play high-performance networking" company that "embraced partnerships" with technology players for servers and storage. Juniper executives have blasted Cisco for burning bridges with longtime server partners like Hewlett-Packard and IBM by entering that market. They've also said that Cisco partners that also sell HP servers have been forced into a tough position.

"We've established strategic alliances with companies like IBM in technology disruption related to the data center development of the future," Johnson said. "We look at our business and we are not confused about who we are or what we do."

Touting a study by Forrester Research that shows Juniper's switching and routing equipment costing 54% less to maintain and support than competitive products and offering businesses a 41% higher operating profit, Johnson and other executives urged partners to take the message of lower total cost of ownership and network simplicity to customers.

Juniper also said that collapsing the number of devices and network layers necessary is a competitive edge.

"The current data center is costly and complex and has been patched together at rapid pace. Today's data center is inherently inefficient," said Hitesh Sheth, executive vice president and general manager of Ethernet platforms, who gave partners a long-term outlook on Juniper plans.

"So what is Juniper after? A single logical switch in the data center that is massively scalable. Think of thousands of 10 gigabit ports," Sheth added.

Sheth outlined five ways to simplify the data center, including consolidating and virtualizing security appliances, virtualizing the application layer, collapsing the core and aggregation layers of the network, connecting data centers through a high-speed interconnect, and simplifying management.

Throughout the day, Juniper executives pointed to the SRX line, first released in September, which combines switching, routing and security in one device with a single operating system and management tool. The first SRX platform released was for a very high-end network, but the company recently released the SRX 210 that can serve small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

That has caused some concern among partners since the SRX can be seen as a rip-and-replace implementation, making it difficult for partners that have other systems in place, and potentially threatening partners that have long sold Juniper's ScreenOS line.

But Juniper executive vice president and general manager of service layer technologies Mark Bauhaus assured partners that the company will continue to support its current security lines for at least another six years, as the company's new SRX becomes more prominent.

Juniper partners high-five legacy product support
For both security and networking partners, that was a welcome message.

"Until this year, we came here every year to beat the SMB drum. They could have done a Cisco and bought a Linksys or bought a SonicWall, but instead, they changed the entire playing field [with the SRX]," said Luke Wignall, managing partner of Denver-based Common Knowledge Technology. Wignall added that the SRX 210, which sells in the $1,000 range, offers three devices in one, each of which could have been a $2,000 box.

The SRX also struck a chord with Nova Scotia-based partner MTS Allstream.

"There is a clear mission statement here," said Mike Dion, security sales account executive for MTS Allstream. "I have been selling on the idea of collapsing the core and access layers. The smaller SRX is on my radar because it's great for branch offices."

The major challenge that MTS has faced in working with Juniper has been the company's lack of penetration in Nova Scotia. Most trained engineers in the area are Cisco savvy but are not trained in Juniper. To deal with the issue, MTS has seeded a local university with Juniper EX switches to train engineering students. Dion said MTS will be standing at the gates of graduating ready to snatch up newly trained JUNOS engineers.

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