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5 things Juniper must do to reignite growth

Juniper Networks sees top execs depart, 5% of workforce laid off as products, strategies misfire

By , Network World
October 29, 2012 11:59 AM ET
Kevin Johnson

Network World - What does Juniper need to do to turn its fortunes around?

Despite beating Wall Street estimates with last week's Q3 results, Juniper (NASDAQ: JNPR) indicated Q4 revenue would be flat to slightly up from Q4 2011 and earnings would be down 20% to 30%, citing "challenging" market conditions marked by softness in the Americas.

The company is also in the midst of a restructuring that's seen four top executives depart, 500 employees laid off, consolidation in some business units and an effort to streamline product lines and R&D investments -- like the decision to kill its own WAN optimizers and recommend Riverbed's. This operational reboot is the result of product misfires, like disappointing sales in data center switching and security, and the slow ramp in new service provider routing gear.

LOOKING FOR A BUYER? Juniper may be for sale, but not to EMC

So here are five things Juniper needs to do in order to run its fortunes around and spark sustainable growth:

• Execute better across the board -- The hallmarks of a struggling company are all there, as mentioned above, from the top executives departing to the layoffs to the overlapping products. What's more, reports have surfaced that Juniper may be looking for a buyer (though EMC has quashed rumors it is looking to buy Juniper). Said Technology Business Research senior analyst Scott Denehy: "Despite the growth quarter, Juniper's long term prospects remain uncertain. Revenue growth for 4Q12 is estimated to be flat, and the company's financial performance will continue to be tied very closely to service provider spending patterns, particularly in the IP edge/core network as Juniper has yet to make any meaningful progress in the 4G Evolved Packet Core (EPC). While Juniper did announce that its solution for the EPC, MobileNext, is running production traffic with one customer, the company may be too far behind to compete effectively and have its solution contribute significantly to its long term growth."

Juniper has an execution problem. The company needs to improve engagement in all strategic areas. That begins with ...

• Revamping and improving marketing -- Clearly, Juniper's "The New Network is Here" message is not resonating with customers. Was it a case of marketing getting out way ahead of the product development and sales cycles? One insider believes that to be the case with the QFabric data center switching portfolio, which with its "3-2-1" marketing slogan sought to flatten data center networks from three to one tier: "Juniper cannot demonstrate that this model provides any benefit over (two-tier spine-and-leaf). So why would anyone buy it. 3-2-1 is just a marketing story." Then again, the market's pretty tough, according to CEO Kevin Johnson: "All of our major financial metrics were in line or ahead of our guided ranges in what continues to be a challenging environment. We're making good progress toward the objective we laid out at the analyst meeting to exit 2013 with an annualized run rate of $600 million in new product revenue. QFabric, PTX and T4000 each posted good revenue in the third quarter."

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