Juniper's third attempt at WLANs

Ruckus partnership comes five years after Trapeze, a year after Aruba

Boom! Back to Square One.

Juniper has been attempting to offer wireless LANs for five years. The company is now on its third attempt in that timeframe.

One year after announcing a comprehensive integration, development and go-to-market agreement with Aruba Networks, Juniper is now announcing same with Ruckus Wireless. The impetus is simple: Juniper switching competitor HP bought Aruba.

Juniper did not say what progress it made to date in its integration work with Aruba but did say it is not scrapping the arrangement. HP might have different ideas though -- its Aruba acquisition closed in May. Juniper did say it will continue to support joint customers and even work with Aruba, and now Ruckus, on new 802.11ac opportunities.

Juniper declined to say how many joint customers it has with Ruckus. It also did not say how many joint deals it landed with Aruba based on their year-old integration partnership.

The partnership with Aruba came about after Juniper failed to generate any WLAN sales growth from its acquisition of Belden’s Trapeze assets in 2010. Wireless LAN integration is key for wired LAN switch growth as enterprises want to operate and manage both as a single network.

This third attempt with Ruckus could be the charm or the strike out. Until we know, here’s what it entails:

  • The companies will work to deliver a unified wired and wireless solution, as well as collaborate on global go-to-market opportunities, to mid-size and large enterprise customers;
  • The companies will combine Juniper’s EX Series Ethernet switches with Ruckus’ ZoneFlex access points and SmartZone Wi-Fi management platform;
  • Ruckus’ 3+1 SmartZone clustering and Juniper’s Virtual Chassis technology will reduce the number of logical wired and wireless devices for management and automation, and boost availability, Juniper says. Security will hinge on IEEE 802.1x network access control on both Ruckus Smart WiFi and Juniper Networks EX Series Switches. Ruckus will deliver BYOD provisioning and onboarding, while the Junipe’s SRX Series Services Gateways will provide next-generation firewall capabilities;
  • Similar to the Aruba arrangement, integration will be achieved through Juniper’s Open Converged Framework for data plane uniformity. OCF uses a Juniper interface that the company open sourced and a Tunnel Management Protocol between agent and manager to achieve services integration through the wired and wireless data planes from the network core. OCF was introduced when the Aruba partnership was announced but it applies to other vendors’ WLAN products as well, including Ruckus.

Citing data from Gartner, Juniper says end-user spending on enterprise WLAN equipment will grow from $5.3 billion in 2015 to $7.8 billion worldwide in 2019, a compounded annual rate of 10.14%. Juniper’s 2014 revenue in worldwide WLAN deployments, including enterprise, outdoor and SOHO, was less than ½ of 1% of the $9 billion market, according to Dell’Oro Group, or about $36 million. Eighteen other vendors were ahead of the company on a revenue share basis.

But Juniper’s not looking to sell WLAN – that’s Ruckus’ job. Juniper wants to sell more wired LAN switches by allying, this time, with Ruckus, which had a 3.3% overall share in 2014 – good for 7th place – but a 7% share of enterprise and outdoor, good for 2nd place behind Aruba (SOHO accounts for roughly half of that $9 billion total market, according to Dell’Oro).

Juniper’s holding its own for now in LAN switching with a 3% share of the $23 billion market in 2014, good for 4th place, according to Dell’Oro. Its share rose in the first quarter of 2015, to 3% from 2.7% in the fourth quarter of 2014.

To keep that momentum going, and growing, it might be a good idea for Juniper to offer a unified wired/wireless solution. Five years later, the company is still working on it.

From a company spokesperson when asked if Juniper is behind its peers in this endeavor:

We are building an arsenal of technology partners as part of the OCF to give our customers more options to build open, converged infrastructures using a – if needed – mix of the best products to serve their specific demands. The Juniper Open Converged Framework ensures that enterprise customers receive best of breed, integrated, unified and validated wired and wireless solutions.

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