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Juniper's new branch office routers take aim at Cisco's ISR

Juniper's new routers and switch aim for the branch office, but even if they can't overthrow Cisco's ISR, opportunity abounds.

When Juniper Networks launched the EX switch line more than a year ago, the company made clear it wanted to be the alternative to Cisco in high-end enterprise networks. Now, Juniper is opening up another front in its war against Cisco with a new branch-office multi-service gateway that hits a competitive price point while spoiling for a fight against Cisco's highly successful Integrated Services Router (ISR). But the ISR is a firmly entrenched incumbent in countless enterprises. It holds roughly a 90% market share, so Juniper must have a compelling product if it wants to make headway.

Juniper's alternative, Gray said, will push the company's proprietary JUNOS operating system out into branch offices in a series of lower-cost routers and switches, giving the devices the same capabilities as their higher-powered cousins, but with performance aimed at the enterprise. The SRX 100 service gateway, for example, will sport firewall performance of 600 Mbps, while the SRX 5000, meant for campuses and data centers, supports up to 60 Gbps.

And those devices are much more affordable than the routers Juniper has previously sold. The least expensive device being launched, the SRX 100, will have a list price of about $700. Contrast that with the SRX 5000, which can cost up to $1 million.

List prices and availabilities
The SRX router series additions
Available in August:
SRX 100 for $700, supporting 600/50 Mbps in Firewall/IPS performance
Available now:
SRX 210 for $1,100, supporting 750/80 Mbps in Firewall/IPS performance
SRX 240 for $3,000, supporting 1500/250 Mbps in Firewall/IPS performance
SRX 650 for $16,000, supporting 7000/900 Mbps in Firewall/IPS performance

The new EX switch
Available in Q1 2010
EX 2200 for $2,400
Will feature 24 or 48 10/100/1000BaseT Ethernet ports

Juniper executives said that these multi-service gateway devices are still full featured, just like their higher-end cousins.

"We've taken the capabilities of JUNOS and put them in devices that are scaled for distributed, branch office deployments," said Scott Calzia, senior product marketing manager for Juniper. He highlighted the inclusion of integrated content security, unified threat management and intrusion prevention services (IPS) on the devices.

Juniper's new switch, the EX2200, is designed to complement this branch office market and can support 24 or 48 ports and full Power over Ethernet while still being managed by the same Juniper Network and Security Manager (NSM) toolset that manages the company's higher-end devices, giving central administrators a break from having to learn a new system to support remotely.

But will these make a dent in Cisco's massive ISR following? Some analysts say it doesn't matter.

Juniper's executives aren't shy about taking shots at Cisco's ubiquitous offering, but Jon Oltsik, senior analyst with Enterprise Strategy Group, said even if Juniper fails to chip away at the ISR's dominance, these lower-end SRX devices can establish themselves in the market.

"Fortnet is a pretty easy target for Juniper; obviously, Cisco's not," Oltsik said. "If Juniper never beats Cisco but displaces Fortnet, then that's a win."

And though reports of "Cisco fatigue" are a bit overstated, Oltsik said, there is a genuine desire among enterprises for alternative choices.

"What people really want is the ability to choose from multiple vendors," he said. "In any other realm of the tech sector, there are a couple of vendors people will buy from. I think that Juniper or another competitor gives you choice and flexibility."

And Juniper may be in an ideal position to provide that.

"If you're going to select an alternative to Cisco, you want to make sure the performance is good, the equipment is good, the management is good," Oltsik said. "3com failed that test; Nortel failed that test. Juniper is intriguing because [it] passed that test."

The devices will begin to face the real test -- customer adoption -- when they go on sale later this year.

The SRX series of routers, available in August, will have list prices of $700, $1,100, $3,000 and $16,000 for the SRX 100, 210, 240 and 650, respectively.

The new EX 2200 switch can be ordered at the end of the year and will ship in Q1, according to Calzia. It will list for $2,400.

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