Application aware infrastructure

Juniper Networks has deepened its commitment to the enterprise networking market by buying WAN optimisation player Peribit Networks and web acceleration specialist Redline Networks.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  May 15, 2005

|~|mohamm_m.jpg|~|“The acquisitions fit exactly with where we are going as a company. We position ourselves as the market leader in traffic processing.” - Mohamad Abdul-Malak, regional manager for Juniper Networks.|~|Juniper Networks has bought Peribit Networks, a leader in wide area network (WAN) optimisation technology, and Redline Networks, a pioneer in the development of Application Front End (AFE) technology. The Peribit acquisition is valued at approximately US$337 million in cash, stock and assumed stock options and the Redline deal is valued at approximately US$132 million in cash and assumed stock options. Juniper has completed the Redline acquisition and it is expected to close the Peribit sale in Q305. Juniper will take on employees from the acquired companies and form a new business unit called the Applications Products Group. Peribit CEO Jef Graham will join Juniper to head the new division and will report to Scott Kriens, chairman and CEO of Juniper. Redline’s CEO Roy Johnson will also join the new division and will report to Graham. Network Middle East interviewed Peribit’s regional director John Rea last month and he predicted strong interest in the company as it planned to go public in the summer. “We thought once we decided to go for an initial public offering (IPO) there would be an increase in interest, and that’s what happened,” says Rea. The acquisitions come at a time when WAN optimisation and web acceleration markets have seen strong growth, with Peribit in particular making significant inroads in the Middle East region. This is driven by enterprises and service providers looking to reduce wide area network (WAN) bandwidth costs, improve the quality of delivered services, and better manage remote offices. The value of the technology lies in its ability to improve the utilisation of existing bandwidth pipes. “Demand for the centralisation of applications and servers is increasing, with this trend cutting hardware, software and facilities costs, especially for the data centre. The Peribit and Redline technologies can help facilitate this consolidation,” says Mohamad Abdul-Malak, regional manager for Juniper Networks. The acquisitions make sense when examining Juniper’s enterprise strategy. The vendor has traditionally been very strong in the service provider space and is aggressively targeting the enterprise market. This arguably began with the US$4 billion acquisition of Netscreen Technologies last year. Abdul-Malak points to increasingly varied traffic on the network as a prime reason for the buys. He sees the network as evolving with devices from PCs and notebooks to iPods and telephones going online, with this placing greater strain on the transport layer. Juniper is trying to position itself as a strong player in optimising this complex flow of traffic. “The acquisitions fit exactly with where we are going as a company. We position ourselves as the market leader in traffic processing,” says Abdul-Malak. “We want to create ‘secure and assured networking’. The Netscreen acquisition added the security element and the new acquisitions will help us to predict traffic flow, which will provide assurance,” he explains. The moves are likely to have a positive impact on Juniper’s enterprise prospects by filling out gaps in its portfolio, as well as giving it access to Peribit and Redline enterprise customers. Some of the fruits of this philosophy will be seen in Q305, when Juniper will release an infranet solution for the enterprise market. An infranet differs from the internet in that it is a private network that uses security mechanisms to lock out unauthorised users and protect the data carried within. The Juniper solution comprises the Infranet Controller and Infranet Agent, which are designed to bring endpoint intelligence into network traffic decisions and combines SSL VPN, firewall and IPSec technology. Analysts see Juniper’s strategy as throwing down the gauntlet to Cisco in the enterprise market. The move is likely to lead to further market consolidation as Cisco and other competitors respond to Juniper's initiative. Promising startups that have not achieved critical mass in the market could find themselves the target of acquisition efforts. “Juniper has been on the march over the past several months, in an attempt to strengthen its position in the enterprise networking space,” says Mohsen Malaki, program and consulting manager, communications, MEA region for IDC. “Its acquisition of NetScreen last year, its major revision of its channel programme, and now these acquisitions, are indicative of the beginnings of an important industry face-off between Juniper and Cisco,” he explains. Furthermore, Gartner says the acquisitions will give Juniper the ingredients for significant differentiation over Cisco in the enterprise market. The research firm says Juniper’s virtual private network (VPN) technology and J, E and M series edge routers, combined with Peribit’s WAN optimisation and Redline’s application delivery components, will allow the vendor to deliver a robust WAN architecture that will improve end-user performance by two to 10 times when compared with Cisco infrastructure. However, Gartner has also cautioned that Juniper has so far not been able to develop the marketing, sales and channel networks needed to deeply penetrate the enterprise market. Its enterprise products are spread across two divisions with two separate management and development teams. The research firm says that Juniper needs to create a credible enterprise team to take advantage of the opportunity. Even taking on board these caveats, Gartner recommends that network managers should include Juniper on their short-list of vendors when looking at upgrades to their router, VPN or WAN architectures. “Considering only one provider for your WAN infrastructure is no longer an acceptable approach. Likewise, network and application architects looking to improve data centre infrastructure or application performance should consider Juniper’s new offerings,” says Mark Fabbi, analyst at Gartner Research. Despite analysts getting behind the acquisitions, the existing customers of Peribit and Redline in the region could be forgiven for being nervous about the deals. Customers need to be reassured that support will be maintained and that product development will continue. Juniper has moved to re-assure customers by emphasisng that it has inherited customers as well as technology. Abdul-Malak also believes the clout that Juniper can bring in terms of research spend will allow the Peribit and Redline teams to step up their product development efforts. This opinion is echoed by Bilal Habash, senior network and telecom engineer at the National Drilling Company (NDC), which recently invested in a Peribit WAN optimisation solution. “The acquisition does not have an adverse effect on us as our support is covered by the local systems integrator Bayanat DPS. In fact, the acquisition should be positive for us. Its good that the Peribit products are now backed by a large manufacturer like Juniper and we should see further products enhancements,” says Habash. This is a bold move by Juniper and one that reflects the confidence of the company, both worldwide and in the Middle East, where the regional team, which relaunched with three people in 2004, has expanded to 20 staff spread across Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.||**||

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