Juniper losing its enterprise mojo

Do Cisco rival's recent results, maneuvers and reported moves show a business unraveling?

Is Juniper's enterprise strategy unraveling? Enterprise accounts for 35% of the company's business but consider these recent, or recently reported, developments:

"In the network security appliances and software market, vendors are actively jockeying to take advantage of competitor slip-ups," observes Jeff Wilson, principal analyst for security at Infonetics Research. "Challengers like Palo Alto, Fortinet, Sourcefire, and Dell SonicWALL will continue to make life interesting for Cisco, Check Point, and Juniper in 2013. When they find success, it will be because they exploit dis-satisfaction with the pricing, efficacy, performance, and feature breadth of the products from the top 3 vendors." 

Ten or so years ago, former Juniper CEO Scott Kriens used to say Juniper would not get into the enterprise business because doing so would put it in competition with its bread-and-butter service provider customers. Then shortly thereafter, Juniper bought NetScreen to get into the enterprise business through its security products and channels.

In 2008, Juniper deepened its insertion into the enterprise market by entering the Ethernet switching arena with the introduction of the EX line. Kriens rationalized the company's decision by saying the same DNA that allowed Juniper to steal 1/3 of the service provider routing market from Cisco in five years should allow it the same success in a mature, price-sensitive market again dominated by Cisco - even though seven other vendors before it continued to languish in sub-10% shares.

In five years in Ethernet switching, Juniper has been unable to duplicate the success it had in its first five years in service provider routing. The portfolio is in upheaval, QFabric and EX "classic" - the EX9200 is a rebranded MX router -- are essentially in maintenance mode, SDNs are ushering in a white box disruption, NetScreen might be for sale, investors recommend selling the stock, and reports are circulating that the Juniper board is demanding the company just go back and stick to its service provider knitting...

It looks like Juniper's nine-year foray into the enterprise wilderness has lost its way. Perhaps Scott Kriens should have heeded his own wisdom about not competing with his customers.

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