Juniper, Aruba partner to unify wired and wireless network management

Juniper, Aruba announced a partnership to converge their respective wired and wireless LAN technology for simplified network management.

Juniper Networks and Aruba Networks have announced a joint development partnership to converge their respective wired and wireless LAN technologies for better performance and security management, while reducing network management complexity for enterprise customers.

Despite the partnership with Aruba, Juniper affirmed its commitment to support and develop its own wireless LAN products, which it acquired with Trapeze Networks.

"The partnership makes a lot of sense. Juniper is world-class within the switching market, combined with Aruba, a leader in 802.11ac [wireless] technology and mobility management tools," said Jason Gress, president of InterVision Systems Technologies, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based systems integrator and elite Juniper partner and Aruba Gold partner that has also sold and supported Juniper's Trapeze Wi-Fi gear. "And the two together will help both companies compete even better and create more exposure for each other in the market instead of operating separately."

Juniper/Aruba: What the partnership might look like

Juniper and Aruba's technology partnership will focus on simplifying network management, policy and security integration, and data plane integration, said Dhritiman Dasgupta, senior director of product marketing for Juniper. While the companies declined to describe their plans for new joint technology development, the partnership will initially integrate Juniper's switching and routing technology with Aruba's wireless LAN (WLAN) portfolio and mobility offerings, including its access points and controllers, the ClearPassaccess management product and Airwave network management platform, and its Meridian location services technology.

"With BYOD [bring your own device] and networks made up of mostly wireless devices, it just makes sense to converge those two networks onto a single network," Dasgupta said. "It made sense for Juniper and Aruba to collaborate on technology since many customers are on the path towards converging their networks."

The technology integrations on the roadmap will provide context between wired and wireless networks, giving enterprises information on users, devices and applications in use on their networks so they can make better decisions around mobile policies, security and application performance, Dasgupta said. The partnership will help address both IT and user challenges, from managing siloed pieces of the network, to roaming between buildings on the enterprise network without consistent coverage and onboarding policies, he said.

Juniper and Aruba will open their respective technology application programming interfaces(APIs) to one another, allowing for product-level integrations, Dasgupta said. "We are putting some engineering resources on both sides to develop the specific protocols to allow the two technologies to talk to each other," he said.

"If there is an open architecture where two vendors can share information, it improves the user experience and the complexity of managing two separate networks for our customers," added Ben Gibson, chief marketing officer for Aruba.

Once the technology integrations are complete, IT teams will have better details about their network, including who the user is, and even their physical location, said Rohit Mehra, vice president of network infrastructure research at Framingham, Massachusetts-based IDC. "That context between the two networks will mean end-to-end policy control and more mobile-centric security, too," he said.

Aruba and Juniper already share many of the same customers, said InterVision's Gress. "But now, instead of selling two parallel tracks, [Juniper and Aruba] will be able [to] give customers [a] clear vision of what they'll be getting -- they'll be getting simplified management and visibility into how to run and operate an integrated wired and wireless network," he said.

What the Juniper/Aruba partnership means for Juniper's own WLAN portfolio

The announcement of the Juniper/Aruba partnership begged the question of what would become of Juniper's own wireless LAN portfolio, which consists of Trapeze Networks technology Juniper acquired in 2010.

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According to Juniper's Dasgupta, "We are not pulling out of the wireless business and there are no changes or upgrades that we are announcing at this point." Along with its joint development plans with Aruba on the wireless side, Juniper said it is not ending support and plans to continue development of its Trapeze WLAN product line.

"This [partnership] is an acknowledgement by Juniper that they have not grown their market share for their wireless portfolio in the way they would have liked to, but it's also showcasing the fact that they are focused on increasing their market presence," IDC's Mehra said. "But for those customers that still want a single-vendor solution, Juniper still has a compelling vendor proposition with [Trapeze]."

InterVision Systems was a Trapeze partner before the company was acquired by Juniper, and has continued to resell the WLAN products to its customers, as well as use Trapeze for its own internal wireless needs, Gress said. "I haven't heard any concerns from our Trapeze customers at this point," he said. Gress said the future of the Trapeze products is unknown right now, but Juniper does have work to do with its own WLAN portfolio. The Trapeze business has not yet introduced 802.11ac products.

Just as the partnership will help round out Juniper's portfolio, Aruba, a WLAN-only vendor, will be gaining a more complete story without running the risk of having too many technology partners, IDC's Mehra said. "Too many partners could distract Aruba from staying on top of customer needs, but this partnership will help increase their addressable market," he said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, news writer, and follow @GeeNarcisi on Twitter.

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