Juniper announces new J-Series routers

* Juniper stakes out new ground for branch offices

Juniper is staking out new ground for branch offices and acknowledging that VPNs are essential technology in large and small corporate settings.

The company this week is announcing two new J-Series routers that support a firewall and IPSec VPN. The main utility of the devices is that they can perform MPLS routing, in addition they can be fitted with cards for WAN acceleration and VoIP.

Juniper has separate routers, called secure services gateways (SSG) that also support VPNs as well as a host of other security functions including gateway antivirus, antispam, intrusion prevention and content filtering. SSGs do more rudimentary routing than the J-Series routers.

The new J-Series routers and the SSGs are based on identical hardware platforms, the difference being the operating systems they run and the applications each operating system supports best.

The J-Series routers are based on JUNOS, Juniper's routing operating system that is ubiquitous across nearly all the company's products. Designed for fast forwarding of packets, JUNOS can handle VPN processing and firewalling, but they are not its strengths.

The SSGs on the other hand run ScreenOS, the security-tuned operating system that powers the NetScreen devices Juniper acquired when it bought the company. It is acknowledged as essential to the high-performance firewall, VPN, intrusion prevention and security screening that Juniper/NetScreen devices can deliver.

The overlap between the functions of the SSG and J-Series is small. They both route, they both have firewalls and they both support VPNs. As Juniper adds ScreenOS software modules to JUNOS, that overlap will grow.

In the meantime, it's worth noting that VPN support is common to both - an indication that VPNs are essential standard equipment for corporate offices of any size.

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