NEC, Juniper Invest in Blade Networks

NEC and Juniper are investing in Blade Network Technologies, which specializes in data center networking. The investments-along with one by an unnamed tech company-brings the value of Blade Networks to $230 million. The move comes a day after Juniper and Nokia Siemens announce a joint venture to offer a Carrier Ethernet solution. Networking vendors are looking for ways to gain traction at a time when market leader Cisco Systems is being hit by the global recession and also is expanding its reach in the data center.

With networking leader Cisco Systems expanding its reach into the data center and the global recession pressuring enterprises to look at options, other networking companies are looking to gain traction in the highly competitive space.

Blade Network Technologies is getting a boost from other tech companies, announcing Sept. 9 that Juniper Networks and NEC-along with the third unnamed technology company-are investing in the vendor, part of Blade's Series B funding round.

Blade's initial investor, Garnett and Helfrich Capital, also is reinvesting in the company, which focuses on networking technologies in the data center.

The infusion of money will put Blade's value at about $230 million, according to officials.

Blade officials also announced that the privately-held company had record revenues and profits in its fiscal third quarter, and that it recently passed the 6 million mark of installed Ethernet switches at, a big Chinese Internet search provider. They also touted partnerships with top server OEMs, including Hewlett-Packard, IBM, NEC and Verari Systems.

Blade's announcements came a day after Juniper and Nokia Siemens Networks got the approval from federal regulators to create a new company aimed at the Carrier Ethernet space.

The new joint venture will be called Carrier Ethernet Solutions BV and will be incorporated in Amsterdam, according to officials with both companies. Juniper will own 60 percent of the company, and Nokia Siemens 40 percent.

The new company will offer a Carrier Ethernet solution around mobile backhaul, business and residential broadband networks. John Stewart, who was a vice president and general manager at Juniper, will be Carrier Ethernet Solutions' CEO, while Ton van den Boom, a senior manager at Nokia Siemens, will be chief financial officer. Manoj Leelanivas, a senior vice president and general manager at Nokia Siemens, will be board chairman.

The new company's offering will include Juniper's MX Series Ethernet services routers and Nokia Siemens' A-series Carrier Ethernet switches and network management capabilities, including point-and-click provisioning, officials said.

"Our customers will be able to leverage the solution to offer new revenue-generating services while lowering transport costs and total cost of ownership," Steward said in a statement.

The first fruits of the joint agreement will start rolling out in the first quarter of 2010, with the solution being sold by both Juniper and Nokia Siemens.

Juniper on Sept. 8 also announced new features on its E Series Broadband Service Router that include an advanced line module for the company's E320 router and multiple IPv6 offerings for greater service delivery capabilities.

Officials with networking companies have said they see an opportunity to gain share in the networking space, with leader Cisco being hit hard by the global recession and working to grow its data center presence through such projects as the UCS (Unified Computing System).

In August, Cisco officials reported that fiscal fourth-quarter sales dropped 18 percent and profits 46 percent year-over-year, and that sales for the entire fiscal 2009 fell 9 percent.