Cisco rival quietly downsizing too

Juniper lops over 5% of its workforce; QFabric hit?

Juniper has cut 500 employees, or just over 5% of its workforce, according to TechTarget. Most of the hits were to the company's QFabric data center switching personnel, the site reports.

Juniper confirmed the cuts but would not confirm or disclose the areas hit, TechTarget reports. Cisco's going through the same machinations, having lopped off at least 2% of its workforce this year. Cisco's WAAS WAN optimization product was said to be hit hardest but Cisco says it's still committed to the product line.

But after years of bluster about its Project Stratus initiative which culminated in the QFabric switching line, Juniper has 200 customers for it and still a lot of walking to do to back up its talk. The ramp has been slow for QFabric which wins plaudits for its vision and technology - a single, flat layer of one-hop networking -- but criticism for Juniper's execution and expectation setting.

Juniper's been holding its own in Layer 2/3 Ethernet switching, according to Dell'Oro Group. It logged a 2.4% share of the $5.3 billion market in Q2, or $127 million. That's up from the 2.2% share of the $4.8 billion market in Q2 2011 -- $106 million. So sales in a year have increased 20% but QFabric is a fraction of Juniper's overall Ethernet switching sales.

Naturally, with a new, proprietary product that attempts to rework the way people have been doing things for decades, the sales cycle will be long. But Juniper's also been cagey about how many of those 200 customers are actually implementing the full QFabric node/interconnect fabric, and which are only looking for a low-latency, 10G top-of-rack switch in the QFX3500 node.

Three weeks ago, Mike Marcellin, senior vice president of strategy and marketing at Juniper, told us "a minority" of those 200 customers have deployed the full QFabric implementation. He also said the company would soon announce two more full deployments which, as of this posting, we have not seen yet (General Dynamics was the most recently announced deployment).

He said there's been no pushback from customers on QFabric's proprietary nature, nor has it been an impediment to sales. He says the 200 customers, and those evaluating the system, are committing to Juniper as their data center infrastructure provider.

Maybe that's slowing the ramp?

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