Microsoft era ending at Juniper

With Muglia's sudden resignation and Johnson's retirement, service provider hardware will be front and center again

So it appears the Microsoft-style software emphasis and strategy for growth at Juniper is ending. With this week's sudden resignation of software chief Bob Muglia and the year-end retirement of CEO and fellow Microsoft alum Kevin Johnson, it's back to the hardware future at Juniper.

Juniper recruited Johnson as its new CEO five years ago from Microsoft after the software giant's failed attempt to purchase Yahoo. At the time, then Juniper CEO and current Chairman Scott Kriens said Johnson has sat where Juniper wanted to be - as an application-aware strategic partner to large enterprises.

+ALSO ON NETWORK WORLD: Juniper CEO Johnson talks software, the company's recent challenges and key future directions+

Johnson recruited fellow Microsoft alum Muglia three years later to a position he created just for him: executive vice president of Juniper's new software solutions division. As leader of this brand new division created just for him, Muglia was charged with overseeing Juniper's end-to-end software strategy.

Now Muglia is gone and Johnson is going. The incoming CEO, Shaygan Kheradpir, has a service provider background of several years at Verizon, one of Juniper's largest customers. He also spent a couple of years at Barclays, a large financial enterprise.

We believe it's safe to presume that Kheradpir has as much experience working with JUNOS - perhaps much more experience - as he does with Microsoft operating systems. And since JUNOS and the hardware it runs on is the bedrock of Juniper, it makes sense that Juniper would now look to a JUNOS router service provider customer rather than a Microsoft vendor to steer the company forward from here.

So, now that Muglia's gone, is the software solutions division created for him gone too? Is the software business model Muglia proposed going to be scrapped? Will Juniper now purge itself of the unremarkable five-year Microsoft way of doing things?

We'll see. The software solutions division is now under Johnson for the remainder of the year. After that, Kheradpir assumes control. But there are rumblings internally that Kheradpir may shake things up once he takes over next year, including the possibility of consolidating the software solutions division with the platform systems division under Rami Rahim.

That might better align software development and revenue generation with the hardware business, and it might signal the end of the Microsofting of Juniper Networks.

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