SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Juniper Network Inc.s acquisitions of two Web performance optimization technology companies this week provide some of the “piece parts” required to improve the quality, security and reliability of Web applications, Chairman Scott Kriens said Wednesday.
There is still a lot of development work to be done in terms of improving the design of networks and software to improve application performance and users experience on the Internet, Kriens said in his keynote address at the Software 2005 conference here.
This is necessary because users and organizations are still working with applications that were never originally designed to work with thousands of users spread over widely separated locations, he suggested.
“Web-based applications only work if the Web and the application understand each other,” Kriens said. Furthermore, “on-demand computing only works if we can get the demand to the computing in the first place,” and there are still plenty of bottlenecks in network performance, he said.
Application developers are at a disadvantage because its difficult to disrupt business while they go back and rewrite applications to optimize applications for network performance, he said. The next problem is how do network and application designers develop new systems that are “much smarter about each other” so they dont continue to proliferate the existing problems? Kriens said.
The need to find a way around these problems is the reason Juniper spent nearly $500 million to acquire Peribit Networks Inc. and Redline Networks Inc., he said.
Each companys products take a different approach to the problem of application and network performance, he said. Redline markets front-end technology that fortifies the performance and scalability for data centers and Web sites. Peribit provides WAN performance optimization technology.
Application front ends take over a lot of the functionality and the burden of processing sessions and multiplexed TCP “in a way that allows for much more effective resource utilization, and it gets rid of a lot of the chattiness in these applications” Kriens said. “It doesnt scale to have dozens of sessions start and stop every time a user presses Enter,” he said. WAN optimization improves the performance of business applications across the Web and across large corporate networks through the use of compression technology.
These technologies are “interesting piece parts” that really need to work together “because it is not sufficient to optimize a Web site with a data center” without optimizing the entire transaction from end to end, he said.
Kriens contends that neither front-end technology nor WAN optimization are fully developed enough to compose a full-scale application acceleration market. Such a definition is “not sufficient because on top of the performance of the application is the need to integrate security and the routing infrastructure,” he said. As a result, Juniper prefers the term “application assurance.”
But for a competing company, FineGround Networks Inc., the Juniper acquisitions are the best thing that could have happened to the technology sector, said Jay Mellman, marketing vice president with FineGround, based in Campbell, Calif.
“We think it will validate the market space in a big way,” Mellman said. “When a company the size and scope of Juniper” makes a major acquisition in a technology sector, “it packs tremendous clout,” he said.
Junipers move can only help lead FineGrounds business “on a really good path,” said Mellman. At the same time, Mellman said he didnt feel jealous or disappointed that Juniper didnt make an offer to his company.
FineGround is a privately held maker of application acceleration technology. Its latest product is a network appliance called Velocity that combines FineGrounds performance optimization software for Web applications with its performance monitoring software.
While the other company mainly focused on selling its products to service providers, FineGround focuses on selling its products to corporate data centers, Mellman said. The companys customers include the U.S. Army, the British Royal Post Office, Cargill Corp. and Whirlpool Corp.
Mellman said FineGround, founded in 2000, isnt looking for a buyer and has sufficient business and venture funding to continue as an independent company. But like any company, FineGround will do whatever it takes to maximize shareholder value, he said.