Juniper Creates $50M Networking Venture Fund

Juniper Networks is establishing a $50 million venture capital program to back startups working on products that would help Juniper encourage adoption of its Junos networking OS platform. The program will focus on companies with products that touch on such areas as secure and green networking, mobility, videos, virtualization, and network automation.

Juniper Networks is establishing a $50 million venture capital initiative to further the company's efforts to create an ecosystem around its Junos networking software platform.

The Junos Innovation Fund, announced Feb. 23, will target early and growth-stage venture-backed companies, the vendor said in a statement announcing the two-year project. The money will be invested in such areas as networking technologies, applications and services that dovetail with Juniper's Junos efforts.

The funded companies will be working in such areas as security infrastructure, advanced mobility and video offerings, virtualization, network automation, optical technology, and green networking.

Juniper officials see Junos as a key differentiator in the company's competition with the likes of Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard, which is in the process of buying 3Com for $2.7 billion as a way of bulking up its ProCurve networking business.

Junos includes the Junos network OS, Junos Space network application platform and Junos Pulse integrated client network, all of which are built on the same core design principles.

Juniper, which is conducting its annual Analyst Day Feb. 23, has also introduced the Junos Ready Software business unit, a growing portfolio of Juniper and third-party applications optimized to run on Junos and addressing such areas as mobile video delivery, advertising, service monitoring and security.

In addition, Juniper in late 2009 announced plans to license out its Junos OS in hopes of further expanding its reach in the industry.

At the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona, Spain, held Feb. 15 to 18, Juniper made a concentrated push into the mobile networking space, with a host of new software offerings in areas such as video on mobile devices, security and traffic management.

Brian White, an analyst at Ticonderoga Securities, said in a research note Feb. 23 that the $50 million venture fund and another announcement Feb. 23 about a $1 billion stock repurchase program show that Juniper is taking advantage of a cash-rich balance sheet.

"We continue to view Juniper as an attractive growth story with new revenue drivers at a cheap price," White said in his note.