Juniper Networks and Aruba Networks will integrate their respective technologies to offer organizations converged wired and wireless networking infrastructures.
The strategic partnership will focus on both joint development of technologies as well as go-to-market efforts to put those products into the hands of customers, according to the two vendors. It will be similar to agreements Aruba reached last year with other networking vendors, including Brocade and Alcatel-Lucent.
For Juniper, it gives the vendor another wireless networking option to offer customers. The company in 2010 bought Trapeze Networks for $152 million to help boost its wireless capabilities, and Juniper officials said the company will continue offering its own wireless products.
"With Aruba we jointly deliver a unique, interoperable wired and wireless solution that will enable customers to realize performance, cost, intelligence and simplified management benefits," Juniper CEO Shaygan Kheradpir said in a statement.
More people are using more devices to connect to the corporate network, via both wired and wireless avenues. Juniper officials pointed to numbers from market research firm Canalys that indicate that by 2016, there will be 2.6 billion mobile devices in use. Such trends as greater employee mobility, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and video traffic are increasing pressure on the network for improved performance and capacity. Networking vendors are looking to help businesses meet these demands and keep costs down by offering converged networking environments. Global networking leader Cisco Systems last year announced it was unifying its wired and wireless offerings under the Unified Access umbrella.
Other vendors are leveraging partnerships to offer converged networking solutions. Juniper officials indicated that they are opening up their networking products to enable integration with third-party products and offer customers best-of-breed networking solutions without vendor lock-in.
"The significance of this announcement cannot be overstated," Jonathan Davidson, senior vice president of engineering at Juniper, said in a post on the company blog. "Previously, customers wanting the benefits of convergence were forced to choose closed proprietary solutions from a single vendor. With today's announcement, which we made along with Aruba Networks, joint customers now have real options for building truly integrated wired and wireless networks."
Davidson said the integration initiative will run over three phases over the next few months, with the first phase being to integrate management applications from both vendors, giving customers a common set of tools to manage the Juniper switches and Aruba wireless LAN products.
The second phase will include integrating policy orchestration to create a common policy language, while the final phase will bring all this together to enable the integration of wired and wireless data planes by opening up Juniper's EX Series and MX Series products to third parties through APIs. That also will mean other vendors beyond Aruba, Davidson wrote.
"Embedding partner services into the Juniper EX Series data plane confirms the power of the industry's most programmable switch," he wrote. "While leveraging programmable silicon allows both Juniper and Aruba to deliver open wired + wireless convergence, the future is still wide open for integration with other industry-leading partners."
Aruba earlier this year identified what officials call #GenMobile employees, highly mobile and connected workers who are attached to their smartphones and tablets and demand a flexible work schedule. Businesses are going to have to adapt to their demands, and partnerships like the one with Juniper will give organizations the solutions they need, according to Aruba CEO Dominic Orr.
"The question on the table is not if employees will bring their own mobile devices into the workplace, but rather how those devices will be supported," Orr said in a statement. "There's an urgent need for IT departments to efficiently handle #GenMobile's all-wireless requirements and the resulting influx of mobile device traffic. [The partnership between Aruba and Juniper will deliver a] rightsized network [that] will help automate and accelerate business operations and deliver an integrated mobility experience on which #GenMobile can depend."
Juniper has been under pressure from investors Elliott Management and Jana Partners to cut costs and return more money to shareholders. Kheradpir, who took over as CEO in January, a month later unveiled a new operating initiative—including plans to streamline product lines and reduce operating expenses—and a plan to return $3 billion to investors over three years. In April, the company announced it was cutting its workforce by 6 percent.