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Juniper: Cisco “biting off more than it can chew”

Juniper founder Pradeep Sindhu believes Cisco's UCS initiative is a case of the latter spreading itself too thin and building systems that lock customers into a single vendor.

Juniper: Cisco “biting off more than it can chew”
Juniper founder Pradeep Sindhu believes Cisco's much touted UCS initiative will only deliver "average" solutions.

BARCELONA: The founder of networking vendor Juniper has lashed out at arch-rival Cisco at its EMEA press summit, claiming that its Unified Computing System initiative is too ambitious to pull off successfully. Pradeep Sindhu, director, founder, and vice chairman of the board, also believes customers are rejecting the technology, preferring to stay vendor neutral.

Juniper is still hard at work on its own multi-year Stratus Project, which aims to "flatten" datacentre networking into a single layer, making infrastructure less complex to administrate and implement. Sindhu says planning for the project started as far back as 2006.

 "We started the conception of the Stratus project in 2006 and started earnestly the design work in 2008. It took us two long years of trying to understand the problem, figure out what role Juniper could play. Juniper is a pure-play networking company - we don't want to build computers and storage deices and other things," he declares.

For Sindhu, Cisco's solution of building its own servers in addition to its current range of networking gear is an unwieldy solution: "This problem is insanely complicated, and for any company to think that they can solve the problems in computing and storage as well as people who specialise in the [individual technologies] is a tall order. They're trying to bite off more than they can chew - there's no question in my mind."

 "You'll end up with average solutions. If you look at UCS for example, it completely misses the problem of large-scale organizations. It's a solution which is intended to solve Cisco's problem , which is: how do you increase your revenues? It doesn't solve the customer's problem. In fact, it forces the customer to get locked into Cisco solutions," he adds.

 With vendors in the market increasingly moving towards consolidation and in-house - HP's acquisition of 3Com and Cisco's move to build servers, at the cost of relationships with long-term partners Dell and IBM - many have questioned Juniper's desire to go it alone and possibly forgo new streams of revenue. Sindhu says customers have not expressed a strong desire for these kinds of solutions.

 "My discussions with customers is that they want to run away as fast as possible. There is one attraction [of UCS]: you have a one-stop shop. But the opposite of attraction is really the fear that they're going to get completely locked into a proprietary and old solution. That's the fear that's being realized as we speak," states Sindhu.

Juniper execs at the event declined to set a date for when products and services based on Stratus would see the light of day, sticking to earlier statements about general availability in 2011.

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