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Network World - Juniper Networks had a challenging 2012 as new product cycles were slow to take hold and global economic conditions took a toll on sales. The company also undertook a restructuring that saw 500 positions cut and the departure of four executive vice presidents. As the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company looks to re-energize its business, particularly with an eye towards enterprises and data centers, CEO Kevin Johnson shared his lessons learned in leading Juniper since 2008, as well as what's ahead for the company in a discussion with IDG Enterprise Chief Content Officer John Gallant and Network World Managing Editor Jim Duffy. In this installment of the IDG Enterprise CEO Interview Series, Johnson also shared his thoughts on the hot topic of software-defined networks (SDN), Juniper's role in enabling cloud and competing against the industry's 800-pound gorilla, Cisco.
Customers are moving toward highly virtualized data centers, cloud services, hybrid cloud. In this context, why is Juniper a better strategic partner than, say, HP, Cisco, Brocade or another networking company?
The two key market trends are cloud computing and mobile Internet. Cloud computing can't be enabled unless you have a high-performance, reliable network that's connecting the users of services and applications to that data center and the compute and the storage layers within the data center. The heritage of Juniper is focused on innovation with a specific focus on high-performance networking, so tackling the most complicated problems of scale and performance and reliability in the network. If you're moving workloads from one data center to another or connecting thousands of storage and computing devices within a data center, our focus has been enabling solutions that solve the problems of scale and reliability.
Some of the key differentiators for Juniper are that we invest in R&D and we develop our own silicon that we use in many of our systems -- not all of them, but in many; silicon that has been purpose-built for different domains of the network and different areas of the network problem. No. 2, we focus on the software operating system that runs in the network. We've been very focused on Junos as a common software platform that runs across the product portfolio, which is something that helps customers better manage, configure and operate those systems. That ultimately leads to lower cost of ownership since it's a single operating system, yet still having the benefits of high performance through the silicon.
MORE: FABRIC WARS: Cisco vs. Brocade vs. Juniper
Juniper has done very well in the service provider business. As we move more toward this cloud world, how specifically would you capitalize on that strength in service provider to benefit enterprise customers?
The investment we make in R&D strategically across routing, switching, security, we look to take those products to market to both service providers and to enterprise customers. Now, why would an enterprise customer be able to leverage engineering work that handles networking problems with the scale of the Internet? Well, when you look at many large enterprises today, they actually start to look like a service provider. You look at the scope of their networks, you look at the complexity of their networks, you look at the requirements they have for performance and reliability, whether it's in financial services, large federal government, defense agencies, you look at healthcare institutions. Look at many of the large industry verticals in the enterprise and the requirements they have in terms of performance, reliability and scale start to mirror what we've seen from service providers over our 16-year history.