Juniper kills MobileNext mobile packet product line

Juniper  MobileNext was a  high-profile competitor to Cisco's Starent gateway that was designed to enable non-interrupted delivery of high-definition voice and video over 2G/3G and LTE mobile networks

Juniper has killed a high-profile product for the core of mobile operator networks after combining business units to focus on potential growth opportunities.

Juniper has exterminated or what it calls  end-of-lifed (EOL) its MobileNext mobile packet core product line, software introduced in 2009 as part of “Project Falcon” for its MX edge routers that was designed to enable non-interrupted delivery of high-definition voice and video to users over 2G/3G and LTE mobile networks. MobileNext was launched at Mobile World Congress in early 2011 to allow Juniper’s MX 3D to function as a broadband gateway, an authentication and management control plane for 2G/3G and LTE mobile packet cores, and as a policy manager for subscriber management systems.

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MobileNext was intended to compete with Cisco’s ASR 5000 LTE gateway, obtained from its acquisition of Starent. But the product was struggling to gain traction in the market and was one of  a handful of new Juniper products straining company financials as they went through lengthy evaluation cycles with potential customers.

Juniper is killing the entire MobileNext offering, which consists of three products: the Mobile Broadband Gateway; the Mobile Control Gateway; and the Mobile Policy Manager. The company claims, however, that its mobility strategy for the operator core remains intact.

“We have made the decision to end-of-life the MobileNext solution,” a Juniper spokesperson says. “However, our strategy remains unchanged: to virtualize mobile networks and deliver innovation through our existing portfolio of backhaul, security, routing and edge services with products such as the MX Series 3D Universal Edge Routers, SRX Series Services Gateways and JunosV App Engine software virtualization platform. We will continue to work with our partners to deliver best-in-class solutions that help customers improve network economics and accelerate delivery of new mobile services.”

Juniper will now address mobile packet core requirements through software-defined network (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) capabilities, according to an internal memo authored by Daniel Hua, senior vice president of Juniper’s Routing Business Unit, and obtained by Network World.

“Despite our decision to EOL MobileNext we remain committed to executing on all existing commitments to our customers and to the mobility space longer term. We believe we can meet the needs of our customers by providing the underlying virtualized mobile infrastructure (routing, switching, SDN and NFV to enable customers to make this transition as well as offer specific virtualized network functions.”

Indeed, Juniper earlier this year announced a virtualized, SDN version of the Mobile Control Gateway based on the JunosV App Engine, which is shipping now on the MX router.

MobileNext’s demise comes as Juniper merges its Edge Services Business Unit into its Routing Business Unit. Hua explains the rationale for this in his memo:

“The compelling reason driving this organization alignment is to increase synergy and focus under the umbrella of a single routing business unit. We believe this step will ensure close alignment of our embedded and virtual services with our market-leading MX and PTX platforms. Many of the network edge services were originally developed as extensions of the Junos OS within RBU. We are realigning these services back to its original function allowing us to strengthen and further innovate in the areas of our Access, Edge, and Core offerings through tighter integration of network services.”

Sources say Juniper is also scaling down development of its Junos Content video and media delivery product line, formerly known as Media Flow and obtained from the $100 million acquisition of Ankeena Networks in 2010. Junos Content is designed to optimize mobile and fixed networks for efficient video and media delivery to smartphones and other mobile devices.

The Juniper spokesperson says the company has not killed Media Flow/Junos Content.

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 27 years, 22 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy.

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