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Juniper: Secured & assured?

Despite its presence as one of the fastest-growing vendors on the NW200, Juniper is struggling to gain enterprise respect.

By , Network World
April 25, 2005 12:07 AM ET
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Network World - One year has passed since Juniper closed the books on its acquisition of VPN and intrusion-prevention vendor NetScreen Technologies , but the company has yet to parlay its year-old enterprise security presence into a broader corporate business.

Juniper's game plan calls for users of NetScreen's popular SSL and IPSec VPN and intrusion-prevention products to consider Juniper elsewhere in the enterprise. Toward that end, Juniper last summer introduced its first business-class WAN routers, the J-Series. But as of early April, Juniper had no J-Series account references it could share publicly. The company says only that a major bank, which uses NetScreen security products, has bought the WAN gear.

At the deal's one-year anniversary, industry watchers debate whether Juniper's $4 billion gambit was a smart move.

From a financial perspective, Juniper's recent sales history has been disappointing, says Nikos Theodosopoulos, a senior financial analyst with UBS Warburg. In the last quarter of last year, revenue from the NetScreen part of the business amounted to $99 million, he says. That's up from $94 million posted by NetScreen alone the quarter before Juniper bought it. "The question is," he says, " 'When will it resume the 30% to 40% growth NetScreen was showing before?'" he says.

Overall, though, Theodosopoulos considers Juniper a strong company - and in good shape to acquire the technology it needs. That's just what Juniper intends to do to get VoIP technology. In late March, the company signed a definitive agreement to acquire session border controller vendor Kagoor Networks for $67.5 million, plus options and other incentives. With Kagoor's technology, Juniper will be able to provide VoIP and other media services to network operators.

Juniper has more than $1 billion in cash and short-term investments, and its stock trades at higher relative values to its sales than do other network vendors, Theodosopoulos says. Juniper's price-per-earnings ratio is 84.96, while Cisco's is 22.7, for example. Plus, with NetScreen under its wing, Juniper has moved up 15 notches on the Network World 200, to 55.

From a user perspective, Juniper has a long way to go in changing the perception of the company from carrier-only to enterprise, too.

One user sums up the situation: "When I think of enterprise equipment, I think of a Cisco 6500. I don't think Juniper has anything comparable to that. In my mind, it really hasn't pushed into enterprise [routing] yet," says Jeff Murphy, senior communication system administrator for the University of Buffalo in New York.

No doubt, "we need to increase the awareness of Juniper as an enterprise company and as a security leader," says David Flynn, vice president of Juniper's security products group. "A lot of people say, 'Juniper, great products, great company,' but think of it still as more of a carrier-routing company."

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