Meru, Juniper Tackle VOIP Networking

Meru Networks announces a partnership with Juniper Networks that is largely focused on implementations of voice over wireless LAN.

Meru Networks Inc. has announced a partnership with Juniper Networks Inc. that is largely focused on implementations of voice over wireless LAN.

The partnership includes interoperability testing and joint sales engagements, according to Meru officials.

"This ties the wireless voice-over-IP focus that we have with the enterprise security focus that they have," said Ihab Abu-Hakima, CEO of Meru, in Sunnyvale, Calif.

Through Junipers J-Partner Infrastructure Alliance program, Meru will work with Juniper to ensure that Merus Air Traffic Control WLAN management system works with Junipers networking products. There will be common security enforcement for wire-line and wireless network access, Abu-Hakima said.

As one of several WLAN switching companies to emerge this decade, Meru has tried to differentiate itself with its emphasis on voice.

Analysts say the market for wireless VOIP (voice over IP) is still in its early stages. In a recent report, Gartner Inc., of Stamford, Conn., gave Meru high scores for "vision" but lower scores on "execution."

But wireless VOIP is gaining traction among hospitals and other vertical markets.

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"Our consideration for voice over WLAN is mainly to replace a legacy wireless system that we have used throughout our manufacturing plant," said Bo Smith, IS group manager for network services at McKee Foods Corp., in Collegedale, Tenn. "One reason we chose Meru is [that] the technology behind their product allows better coverage and more simultaneous voice calls than other products we have used and tested."

Merus partnership with Juniper, also of Sunnyvale, follows a similar interoperability testing agreement with Avaya Inc. in July.

Both Avaya and Juniper compete against Cisco Systems Inc. in networking and IP telephony. Following Ciscos acquisition of wireless startup Airespace Inc. last winter, many competitors have responded with partnerships.

Juniper has a pre-existing partnership with Colubris Networks Inc., which focuses on Wi-Fi hot-spot deployments.

In addition, Juniper has long been considering the acquisition of a wireless LAN switching company, which would help it better compete against Cisco, according to several sources who said Juniper was bidding for Airespace at the same time Cisco was. Jupiter officials declined to comment on any acquisition plans.

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