By Angela Sutherland
When an enterprise like Etisalat overhauls its internet protocol (IP) infrastructure with Juniper Networks M160 routing platforms, the vendor says it has all the reasons to boast about its product superiority, and the growing business in the Middle East.
|~||~||~|When an enterprise like Etisalat overhauls its internet protocol (IP) infrastructure with Juniper Networks M160 routing platforms, the vendor says it has all the reasons to boast about its product superiority, and the growing business in the Middle East. “I have one question to ask when it comes to our products and services in a competitive market like the Middle East. What will it take for a customer to remove a core network and replace it with a Juniper solution?” asks Mohamad Abdul-Malak, regional director for Juniper Networks MEA.
One of the enhancements to Etisalat network is the upgrade of its core backbone with Juniper’s M160 routing platforms, which the vendor says provide Etisalat with a reliable and high performing infrastructure for advanced IP services. The M160 routers have been installed in Points-of-Presence (POP) throughout the country. Juniper says Etisalat's decision to select its routers was based on its positive experiences during an initial test phase. The JUNOS operating software, as well as the carrier class performance and scalability of the hardware platforms, worked for Etisalat.
Juniper says its global business has grown by more than 50%, and has the potential to grow further. The vendor, which is ambitiously expanding in multiple markets across the service provider and enterprise market, is paying close attention to the lucrative Middle East. Outside of the Americas, the market for Juniper products contributes a little more than half of the overall business. Approximately 50% to 55% of the business for the vendor comes from outside the Americas. Some of the emerging markets like Eastern Europe and the Middle East contribute handsomely to its annual revenue. “The EMEA region is critical for Juniper’s overall growth. The contribution this region makes to the overall annual revenue of the company is 1/3 and that is a significant contribution,” says Abdul-Malak. “The Middle East has a lot of opportunities and we are here to [exploit] them. 2006 is all about growth for us. We have a good reputation in the region and we have managed to secure significant number of customers in the enterprise segment of the market,” he adds.
“Furthermore, we are increasing our presence in all parts of the Middle East. For example, we now have offices in Egypt and in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Jordan and Pakistan are also strong markets for us. We will continue to diversify our presence in this part of the world.”
Abdul-Malak, who took the helm at Juniper MEA two years ago, is not only ambitious, but also confident about his organisation’s growth in the region. The Middle Eastern operation has spent the last two years preparing for this onslaught, according to Abdul-Malak. The company has allocated approximately US$1million for promoting its regional operations. “We will spend the money on promoting our solutions, training our staff, taking part in regional events such as Gitex, provide training for our channel partners and establish our research and development (R&D) facilities.” Globally, Juniper is expected to spend US$350 million on R&D, which is within the three areas of infrastructure, security and application performance. It is paying special attention to open standards across the market, improving the users’ experience with the network and extending the brand and reputation of the company in the marketplace. Juniper says customers need commitments from vendors to drive open standards. However, the problem with the alternative approach is that the choice is in the hands of the vendor, and that needs to change. “Since customers are the ones spending the money and making the decisions, they should be the ones making the choices as well.”
Furthermore, Juniper is working toward strengthening the security aspect of enterprise networks. Its security products year-on-year growth stands at 37%. The vendor has introduced its Secure Services Gateway (SSG) 500 series, a new line of virtual private networking (VPN) platforms with integrated local-area network (LAN) and wide-area network (WAN) interfaces. The new solution enables enterprises to address the growing security and connectivity requirements. The solution also enables enterprises to rollout secure and assured LAN and WAN-based services with the capability to scale as connectivity and security requirements grow.
Juniper says the SSG series is built from the ground-up with security as the foundation, based on its ScreenOS operating system. The platform delivers up to one gigabit-per-second (Gbps) firewall and is designed to provide optional intrusion prevention, web filtering, antivirus and antispam capabilities to protect customers from internal LAN and external WAN-based threats. “Security remains the most fundamental issue for the distributed enterprise, and as more internet-based applications are extended to branch offices, enterprise IT organisations must think security first when building out the branch office infrastructure,” says Joel Conover, principal analyst at Current Analysis. “Juniper’s SSG solution is an extensible branch office platform that combines the best in security and routing to give distributed organisations an efficient, affordable option for extending security controls to branch offices.”
Abdul-Malak says Juniper’s solutions are developed to ensure they do not compromise an end user’s network. There is no 100% network security, however, the vendor tries its best to work with end users to meet most of their security requirements. Abdul-Malak says network security is about vendors and enterprises working in partnership. “Customer are spending a lot of money in securing their networks and we have a responsibility to meet their demands. Juniper architects its solutions in a way that they do not compromise security at any level. Having said that, it is critical to work with customers and understand their required level of security. And customers need to know the level of security they need. It is a two-way thing,” Abdul-Malak explains.
Finally, for Abdul-Malak 2006 is a year of exploiting opportunities in the booming Middle East. After couple of years of instability, the global IT industry is stabilising. There is confidence in the market place. Vendor consolidations and acquisitions are slowing down and enterprises are once again increasing their IT budgets. Above all, globalisation is increasing the demand for technology. “The IT industry looks extremely positive and stable, which means enterprises are willing to spend. On the whole, everything looks [upbeat] and vendors have great opportunities to exploit in the Middle East,” he enthuses.