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Juniper's causing a stir in crowded switching field

Before even having time to digest, let alone write about, yesterday’s Juniper announcement that the company was entering the switching market, we received two responses to it from two competitors. It sounds like switch manufacturers feel crowded enough with Cisco’s dominance and aren’t happy about another big name entering the fray. But they might raise some valid points. Does Juniper not “gets the enterprise,” as some critics have charged? I also wonder if they were expecting this warm a reception from their new competitors. See excerpts after the jump.

From Steve Johansson, who represents Extreme Networks:

As you know, Juniper made a splash today with a new set of fixed edge switches. However, by focusing on fixed-configuration switches in the high-end, Gigabit to the Desktop market, Juniper is creating a high profile message about performance that actually misses the mark when lined up against what Enterprises really care about.

Juniper’s switch products miss the largest trend happening, namely the proliferation of critical IP devices, including IP phones, wireless LAN access points, and cameras. These IP-connected devices challenge IT managers with specific operational, installation, and maintenance issues that demand a more thoughtful and comprehensive approach to the edge networking portfolio. These devices don’t benefit at all from the pricey, performance-centric approach that Juniper promotes. They require a pragmatic approach and intelligence to manage them efficiently.

And from ConSentry’s Dan Leary, VP of marketing:

“Today’s long-anticipated announcement from Juniper about the company’s entrance into the switching market provided little to differentiate Juniper’s products. The technical details about the access switches due to ship in March reveal a product line based on the legacy switch architecture, with vanilla Layer2/Layer 3 functionality only and no unique intelligence for user or application control. While the company discussed the need for application control, this feature was billed as a future deliverable available in the second half of the year and only as a blade in the chassis switch designed for the LAN core.

Entering the already crowded LAN switching market, and especially the access switch market, with no leading-edge or differentiated product capabilities will likely make it harder for Juniper to successfully penetrate this market. While we believe customers want a strong alternative to Cisco in LAN switching, and Juniper enjoys strong brand awareness, this product set falls short of today’s enterprise demands and the limited functionality gives companies little reason to consider Juniper during a switch upgrade.”

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These reviews are ridiculuous. Juniper represents a strong, trustworthy brand safe for infrastructure investment- something most other network vendors can't claim. In our particular position, we are seeking to maintain as few vendors in our space as possible- now we can choose Juniper not only for our critical routing needs, but our switching needs as well. Does the product line compare to a Nexus 7000? Of course not- it's not supposed to. And yet they have already spoken of meeting those needs later... it's never enough for a competitor merely looking to rain on your parade. And pricey? I don't think so- a 3200 that lists for $4k is a great price. Juniper has made a great move, and now will likely begin to redefine the switch market in specific, and the network device market as a whole.