In another step that will see it stand toe-to-toe with long-time market jousting foe Cisco, Juniper Networks has hatched a series of developments to its networking range and overall corporate strategy. Julian Pletts talks to the vendor's EMEA boss, Gert-Jan Schenk, to find out what they mean for enterprises in this region.
There has been a great deal of announcements from Juniper regarding its strategy and product ranges in the last few months. How big is this time in terms of milestones for the company?
I would say this is probably after the founding of the company 12 years ago this is the biggest announcement ever since.
And it is a reactive move perhaps to the call, globally, for cloud computing to become a stronger part of the overall business and networking provisions today...
Yes, we believe that networks overall are changing, it is about access and about the user experience and it is about overall virtualisation of everything for enterprises. We don't believe that it is scalable for business to continue to build their dedicated data centres and this is why we believe that on the whole virtualisation is going to be very important and this is why we call it cloud networking rather than cloud computing. I think it is much bigger than just the computing part.
And you claim you can really save money for the end-user in both CAPEX and in OPEX. This is a claim though, that many vendors have been making as it is obviously what the end-user wants to hear right now. So why and how is your claim different? Is it down to the flexibility of the cloud?
It is that element for sure, because you start to share resources, applications and application providers in their shared space and you don't need all of the IT resources for assistance and maintenance. And the other thing that I really believe is important is - how are you going to scale this massive ramp-up?
We have shown you what happened with all the devices that there are now, it will break, if a company and search providers are not starting to think more strategically about the future, it will break. It is not for us, just announcing one product, it is about software, it is about network architecture, and scalability. It is also about how to do things differently than we have done before.
This is also you laying down the gauntlet to Cisco as it faces increasing competition from all sides. How will your ‘New Network' strategy help you challenge Cisco here on a local basis?
In most of the markets we have become either the number one or the number two player. That is definitely one of the things, we have been very successful in competing with them in the high performance routing space, enterprise space and service provider's space. And Juniper has been very successful and taking second place in the security networking space and we are starting to move very aggressively with security in the pipeline.
The good thing is we are not competing in the same space as IBM, Sun or Oracle, nor HP in a way, and if you look at Cisco they are really narrow, sort of fighting with their traditional rivals. We stay, a pure play networking and security company, which provides Juniper a huge opportunity in the market and this is also why you have seen the OEM announcement with Dell and also with IBM, in which they are really working with Juniper.
Is the Middle East really ready for cloud computing on this scale that you have announced, because in many enterprises in this region are still looking at the consolidation of their infrastructure and are they really ready to move a lot of it into the cloud?
The good thing is that it is not an architecture that is out there over nothing. What we do is we provide a real gradual approach to it, you can start with our switching products and then you can expand to the infrastructure at their own pace. I think today all enterprises and service providers are suffering from the same challenges.One is the power supply, the space and physicality of how to manage it and how to introduce new applications and bring the total cost of ownership down for their customers.
I believe that it is very difficult for our customers here in the UAE, in Saudi and the rest of the regions and if you look at the success and the early success at the start of the year that we had with our switching products in this region, in the data centres, it is really the proof that the customers are very innovative and very open to try and do something different than other companies have done before.
One of the other good things is that a lot of the companies here don't have to deal with this heritage of the data centre and legacy systems.
Through all of the recent announcements there has been nothing on FCoE. Where does Juniper stand on this technology and how are you going to address that market, with standards and technologies in the future?
Let me start by looking at Juniper. Everything we do is very open and standards based. So looking at what we have, all of our products have the Ethernet, high speed internet access over optical. Looking at the specific access or last mile fiber access, that is something that we don't do and something that is typically done by partners that we are working with.
Tell me more about the cloud networking plans for this region. Is your infrastructure behind that going to be out of the Middle East or based in Europe?
We have three major technical systems centres as we call them. One is in the Asia Pacific and the second one for the EMEA region is based in Amsterdam, where we have about 100 engineers servicing our customers here and we have a large tech centre in the US.
So we have a follow the sun principle, to support our customers 24/7 and then we have, in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia, local engineers to work directly with the customers on-site, through partners and through local resources that we have in the region.
One of the major concerns about cloud networking is how secure it is. How do you convince people here in the Middle East that it is a secure option to opt for?
One way is by following the security standards. That is a really important aspect and then by using our proven security products that we have been shipping already for the last six to seven years in the market. Also SSLVPN, combining that, for example, with location control so that we help customers carryout the diligence on where they are coming from.
They want to know where people are dialing-in from, whether it is the company premises, from Starbucks or from their home? We can help them make active decisions based on the type of service, and also where the signal is coming from, as to which applications that they will get access to in the network.For all the latest tech news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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