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Interop 2005: Kriens articulates opportunities within natural boundaries

In his Interop keynote, the Juniper CEO endorses industry collaboration and believes in multivendor networks, but some wonder if Kriens just wants to minimize the competition.

LAS VEGAS – One-stop shopping isn't the answer when it comes to networking, according the chairman and CEO of Juniper Networks Inc.

Scott Kriens' keynote address this morning at Interop 2005 centered on the changing face of the industry and the resulting benefits of multivendor networks.

He said despite vendor consolidation, technology boundaries will continue to silo the networking industry into four segments: networked user devices, traffic processing devices, applications and their associated processing elements (i.e., servers and storage), and network transmission equipment and facilities.

Kriens said Juniper recognizes those boundaries and endorses industry collaboration instead of industry consolidation. He said an end-to-end, single-vendor approach sacrifices quality and performance as each of the four segments requires unique expertise.

In fact, Kriens likened the vendors that offer end-to-end devices to campaigning politicians who make lofty false promises to meet high-voter expectations, but really only want the glory of being elected.

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He underpinned his claims with research from Gartner Inc. Kriens said Gartner found a 25% decrease in total cost of ownership and increased performance with a best-of-breed approach.

The "Infranet" initiative is what Juniper calls its approach to the single vs. multivendor debate. Kriens said Juniper encourages suppliers of end-point, traffic processing and network transmission devices, as well as applications and servers, to join forces. The Infranet initiative is intended to unite them through the use of common technologies to boost the performance and security of all networks.

Kriens added, "We can understand what we bring to the table, create win-win partnerships and open standards."

Referring to this week's partnership with Avaya Inc. as an example, Kriens said the companies agreed to combine expertise of Avaya's enterprise communications and Juniper's security and routing. The companies Monday announced a tightened partnership that includes joint product development, as well as resale and support of each other vendor's products worldwide.

Ed Grunzel, technical architect with Erie, Pa.-based Erie Insurance Group, said Juniper's strategy was insightful, but he's interested in whether it sincerely wants to establish partnerships or is just interested in minimizing the competition.

He said his company at one time had a blended network of Nortel Networks Ltd. and Cisco Systems Inc. products, but it experienced compatibility issues. Grunzel said the company decided to go with an entirely Cisco network, and has been quite satisfied with its performance.

But, Grunzel said, Kriens' keynote did offer things to ponder. He said the cost savings of a multivendor approach will be considered when making future purchases.

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