Move Over Cisco, Juniper Is Now a LAN Switch Competitor

Juniper takes its place alongside Cisco Systems, Force10 Networks, Foundry Networks and Extreme Networks in the high-performance LAN switching market.

NEW YORK-Juniper Networks made its official foray into the enterprise switching space on Jan. 29 when it launched its new, home-grown EX Series of stackable and chassis LAN switches.

Now it has to convince enterprise network buyers who by and large use Cisco Systems' Catalyst switches in their wiring closets and data centers to make the switch to a vendor known for providing service providers with carrier-class routers.

Juniper officials believe the company can do so with its new EX Series by virtue of the single software image provided across its product line in its JUNOS operating system. Juniper is also touting the wire-speed performance provided by the switches as well as promising that the switches will help to lower operational costs through reduced power consumption and administrative overhead.

Rather than pitch commodity switching products, Juniper positioned the new EX Series as premium, high-performance LAN switch line aimed at enterprises that view the network as a critical factor in the success of their business, said Scott Kriens, chairman and CEO of Juniper.

"The Wal-Mart strategy is not Juniper's [strategy]. If the network is needed and critical to the success of the business, then it matters. The enterprise network is open for business in ways it hasn't been before," he said.

The new switches include the EX 3200 and EX 4200 fixed configuration switches as well as the EX 8200 Series modular switches in 8-slot and 16-slot models that provide 1.6TB per second and 3.2TB per second capacity, respectively.

Juniper in the EX 4200 created a new Virtual-Chassis technology that allows up to 10 of the stackables to be interconnected in a 128G bps backplane, with all units managed as a single system.

"Customers can deploy Layer 3 end-to-end much more economically than they have in the past. Every virtual chassis system can be treated as one, so customers can reduce the number of managed devices by up to 80 percent. That's a substantial savings," said Hitesh Sheth, executive vice president and general manager of Juniper's switching business. He also said the virtual chassis system affords a 66 percent savings in power consumption.