Breaking Analysis: Juniper Jumpstarts SDN Strategy by Reinventing Software Stack

At their Global Partner Conference in Las Vegas yesterday, Juniper unveiled their new SDN strategy.  Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson and Bob Muglia, EVP Software Solutions Division, laid out their long overdue SDN plans.  Wikibon Senior Analyst Stu Miniman described their strategy as re-inventing their software stack.  He said, “Juniper has always had a pretty robust operating system, what they call Junos.  What they’ve pitched is their new way of doing this; they’re slicing up the stack.”  He explained that they will be dividing their stack into four layers: management, services, control plane, and forwarding.

Another part of Juniper’s announcement centered around a new licensing model.  Miniman referred to Muglia’s Microsoft background when he commented, “Juniper’s gotten a real infusion of Microsoft blood, and if you look at what Juniper’s laying out, their enterprise software licensing looks a lot like what Microsoft has done in the past.”  Juniper is typically known for its hardware line of routers and switches that come with bundled software and maintenance.  However, their new business model will consist of a software subscription, and maintenance will be a piece of that. Miniman said that this positions Juniper to be more of a software company.  He observed that this is really the first of the traditional networking companies that have made that pivot towards licensing for a software defined networking environment.

Juniper’s $176M acquisition of Contrail last month comes into play in the new strategy as well. Contrail brings controller technology to the table for Juniper.  Miniman pointed out that most SDN controllers utilize the OpenFlow protocol, but Contrail’s primary technology uses BGP and XMPP, making OpenFlow a secondary protocol in their offering.

Many of Cisco’s competitors, like Cisco, HP, Brocade and Arista, all made moves last year to initiate their SDN strategies.  Does this mean that Juniper is late to the SDN dance?  From a customer acquisition standpoint, Miniman does not believe that they are.  However, from a thought leadership standpoint, he acknowledged that they’ve definitely lost some edge against their competitors.

In other networking news, Lloyd Carney has been appointed CEO at Brocade.  Miniman confirmed that Carney comes to Brocade with a strong leadership background, but also that the last two companies Carney has been with have been acquired.  He said the question everyone is asking now is whether Brocade can remain a standalone company under Carney. See the entire segment with Kristin Feledy and Stu Miniman on the Morning NewsDesk Show.