Cisco’s FineGround bid sets up further competition with Juniper

* Cisco, Juniper setting up a network optimization showdown

Optimization is the name of the game as equipment vendors Cisco and Juniper continue to pump up their portfolios with application acceleration tools.

Cisco last week said it would put down $70 million in cash and options for FineGround Networks, a maker of application acceleration and bandwidth optimization tools. FineGround’s products help reduce network latency, compress applications and improve WAN performance. The network giant says it will integrate FineGround's application delivery technologies into Cisco routing and switching gear.

The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of Cisco's fiscal year 2005, which ends July 30. FineGround will become part of Cisco's Security Technology Group and FineGround CEO Nat Kausik will continue to manage operations.

The news follows similar actions from Cisco competitor Juniper, which in April paid $469 million for Redline and Peribit. The Peribit acquisition is valued at $337 million, and the Redline purchase at $132 million. Both are cash and stock transactions. Juniper's acquisition plans would give the company more to offer enterprise customers.

All the vendors subject to acquisition - FineGround, Peribit and Redline - provide boxes to speed applications over a WAN. By coupling the technology with gear from Cisco or Juniper, ideally IT managers could reduce the number of appliances they have installed in data centers.

Cisco could also be closing in on a market it already has a significant stake in. According to a Forrester Research report by principal analyst Thomas Mendel, Cisco already delivers products to do SSL acceleration, server load balancing, enterprise content delivery and traffic management. The company's strength in server load balancing will help Cisco excel in the future data center acceleration market, the report says.

Customers will have to wait to see how Cisco and Juniper intend to integrate the new technologies into their current products - or if they made the acquisitions simply to increase their respective customer bases and to just re-brand the acquired products.

Learn more about this topic

Cisco buys app accelerator

Network World, 05/26/05

Juniper buys Peribit, Redline to boost stake in enterprise market

Network World Fusion, 04/26/05

Cisco gets a competitor in the enterprise

Network World, 05/10/05

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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