What Juniper Networks` Entry into the Switch Market Means for the Channel

By Frank Ohlhorst  |  Print this article Print


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It was really no surprise when Juniper Networks announced that it was getting into the switching business, but how will the addition of switches help the channel?

It's easy to see that Juniper Networks has been gunning for more channel partners and is hoping to use the channel to chip away at industry leader Cisco Systems' dominance in the market. After all, Juniper has introduced innovative channel and training programs, such as its "Fast Track Training and Certification" program that got engineers up to speed on the products rather quickly. Juniper has further enhanced the program by eliminating some prerequisites, such as the need for a certification from competitor Cisco.

The company's foray into Cisco territory doesn't end with new training and certification options. Juniper's launch of enterprise-class Ethernet switches adds yet another piece to the networking infrastructure puzzle. Perhaps those switches are the final piece needed to make Juniper a real contender in the enterprise networking realm.

From a technical standpoint, the EX 3200, 4200 and 8200 series offer all the features one would expect from carrier-class switches, but the big news is that those switches all run on Juniper's JUNOS operating system software, which should make the switches easier to manage and deploy at sites already using Juniper's other products.

From a solution provider's standpoint, having more choice is good. With Juniper entering the already crowed switching market populated by Cisco, Force10, HP and others, the company will have to demonstrate much more than price and ease of use to make its mark.

Are channel partners actually likely to switch to Juniper from Cisco? Click here to read more.

Solution providers need to look at the present as well as the future. For the present, Juniper is looking to recruit and train VARs on its products, and Juniper has made solid headway in integration of its products across platforms and brands.

What's more, with the reduced management overhead and the benefits of a single vendor solution, VARs could make serious headway into the growing midsize enterprise market. In short, Juniper is making it much easier for a VAR to expand its networking services and options.

For the future, the company's new switches show incredible promise when it comes to security, namely NAC (network access control). Juniper has pursued the NAC market with its UAC (Unified Access Control) product, but has had a tough time selling UAC, because UAC was limited to only Layer 2 restrictions. With the company's new switches, Layer 4 restrictions become a reality, allowing administrators to restrict users based upon their roles in a company, which can be defined by access control lists and user policies. Layer 2 restrictions were far less elegant, relying mostly on controlling access via VLAN (virtual LAN) assignments.

Add the enhancements to UAC to the company's evolving NetScreen-Security Manager software and solution providers will have a very powerful security offering, all just because Juniper has added switches to its portfolio.

Time will tell whether Juniper will score a success with its new products and various options, but one thing is certain, VARs owe it to themselves to take a look at what Juniper is attempting to do and then see if it could fit their business models, while creating new opportunities.

Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com