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Is Juniper’s brand re-launch worth the flowing whiskey and shrimp?

Ok, so Juniper spent A LOT of money unveiling its new logo Wednesday night. The networking company hung video signage over the front half of the NYSE, and took over the stock exchange floor with a gala that flowed with Johnnie Walker and shrimp.

But does the costly rebranding reflect the importance of this latest technology push? Depends on who you ask.

Juniper was still short on technology details, withholding the actual announcement until Thursday at the official launch. But executives milling about confirmed a super-powered Juniper chipset that one managed service provider at the event said would ensure huge amounts of transport to the millisecond.

That may be what Juniper is referring to with its new marketing tag: “The New Network.”

Juniper insiders also confirmed the launch of an open API network-based application platform that will enable developers to spin their own apps all running on JUNOS, Juniper’s OS that stretches across all of its networking and security products. One executive said Juniper “realized it needed a software strategy” but didn’t want to “buy other companies to make that happen.” An obvious swipe at Cisco.

If there is a data center equipment plan, it appears to come in the form of an OEM partnership which Dell announced Wednesday afternoon. As part of that agreement, Dell will sell Juniper’s networking gear (it has a similar deal with Brocade), and the companies will deploy a common OS (most likely being JUNOS) and management platform. That could position Juniper to take on Cisco in the data center, but is still not the execution of the “data center vision” it promised last winter.

“They have a ‘data center vision’, but no real plan still,” said Yankee Group analyst Zeus Kerravala, questioning where the news was behind all of the hoopla.

Kerravala also criticized Juniper for lacking a plan to deliver mobile data. Cisco bought into that strategy when it acquired Starent this month.

As for the rebranding – Juniper executives denied there was serious extravagance involved, and said it is all necessary.

“The company didn’t have a marketing bone in its body before,” said Juniper channel chief Frank Vitagliano. “This is perfect timing now that we are coming out of a bad economic time.”

So while endless appetizer shrimp + Wall Street still equal excess amid a recession to some, a top Juniper marketing executive promised the company’s brand re-launch was within the “typical marketing budget” … to which Kerravala responded, “What’s typical?”

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