Juniper Networks confirmed Jan. 25 that it is phasing out over the next six months its DX line of data center-scale application acceleration appliances that it acquired two years ago with the buyout of Redline Networks.
News about the DX phase-out comes as Juniper prepares to launch on Jan. 29 its first foray into the enterprise LAN switching market, according to sources close to the company.
The new switching initiative, code-named Hurricane, will include a series of switches that range from low-end stackables to high-end chassis based products, according to Zeus Kerravala, industry analyst with Yankee Group in Boston.
Kerravala, who gathered details on the Hurricane project from several sources but not Juniper directly, said that the new switches are based on Marvel chip sets and will run the JUNOS operating system.
But, he said, the first switches to be delivered are not the high-end chassis switches, but rather the fixed configuration switches. Juniper plans to release the chassis-based switches nine months later, Kerravala said.
Industry observers have long expected Juniper to move beyond its routing roots and focus on service providers to address switching in the enterprise.
“The odd thing about this announcement is that Juniper has said for years they didn’t really need an Ethernet switch to compete in the enterprise networking market. This is somewhat contrarian to things they’ve stated in the past,” Kerravala said.
Juniper, which will seek a premium price for its new switches, will have an uphill battle gaining market share, said Kerravala. “Selling is not the same as having: you need a channel, experience in switching. A product alone doesn’t get you in the market,” he said.
A Juniper spokesperson declined to comment on Kerravala’s disclosures.
However the spokesperson did confirm that Juniper plans to phase out the DX application acceleration appliances.
“Juniper has made the formal decision to phase out the DX product line. Over the next six months customers can continue to purchase the DX product. After this time period, Juniper is dedicated to supporting customer installations of the DX for half a decade (five years),” the spokesperson said.
Where Will the DX Go?
“We are committed to working with our customers and plan to re-allocate investments and resources to continue innovation on our existing and future product lines, including WAN acceleration, security and routing technologies within our high-performance network infrastructure,” said the spokesperson, adding that Juniper employees displaced by the DX products’ phase-out will get a chance to apply for 400 positions that are open in other parts of the company.
Juniper’s decision to discontinue the DX product line raises questions about Juniper’s commitment to the application acceleration market, although it is still marketing the application acceleration technology it acquired with Peribit Networks.
“There seems to be some evolution in their application delivery strategy,” said Abner Germanow, analyst with IDC in Framingham, Mass. “Where did the DX go? Are they going to get out of that business?”
Furthermore, several sources close to Juniper said its new LAN switching initiative is long on vision and short on near-term deliverables. And by addressing a mature market dominated by Cisco Systems, Juniper will have an uphill battle to gain market share.
Still, there are growth opportunities, believes Cindy Borovick, vice president at IDC.
“I think that Juniper has made it clear that enterprise networking is important to them and that they do very well with [service providers], but they need an enterprise strategy as well, Borovick said. “They are growing in the enterprise space overall, but the question is what markets will grow the fastest in networking and where can they gain market share fastest.”
Cisco’s dominance in broader enterprise LANs may not translate into a stranglehold in the data center, Borovick added.
“In the data center the customer is willing to evaluate a different vendor or take a risk on a new platform if it’s perceived as best of breed,” she said.
Industry observers expect Juniper to launch its LAN switching initiative Jan 20 at its Global Enterprise Event in New York.