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Juniper Networks is hiring former longtime Microsoft executive Bob Muglia to head up its newly formed software division, an indication of the importance Juniper and other networking vendors place on the role of software in the market.

Juniper on July 25 announced the decision to make Muglia executive vice president of its Software Solutions Division, where the company will centralize its varied and growing software offerings. Muglia will oversee Juniper s overall software strategy, according to CEO Kevin Johnson.

"We are excited to have a leader of Bob’s caliber coming on board to lead Juniper’s software initiatives, and I’m confident that his vision, management savvy and technical expertise will bring tremendous value to our organization," Johnson said in a statement. "As we continue to execute on our growth strategy centered on systems and software, we look forward to Bob playing a central role in extending our leadership position in network-powered software solutions."

With networking playing an increasingly important role in the data center, thanks to the growth of such technologies as virtualization and the rise of cloud computing, there is a need for software that helps manage, configure and run the network. All the major networking vendors are growing their network software offerings, though Juniper officials see their portfolio — and the combination of that software with their hardware — as a key differentiator in its competition with the likes of Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard.

Central to that portfolio is the Junos Networking operating system, which is the software platform that is common to all of Juniper’s hardware, from routers and switches to security devices. Juniper also offers a Junos SDK (software development kit), which enables its own developers and third-party programmers the chance to develop applications that leverage the network operating system.

To read the original eWeek article, click here: Juniper Taps Microsoft Vet Muglia to Head Software Unit