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Do Juniper layoffs mean QFabric is dead? No way

A deeper look at the Juniper layoffs. Sources say many will come from the QFabric staff. Yet Juniper execs say no single division has been targeted.

My recent report on the Juniper layoffs has generated a lot of discussion among readers.

In that story, I noted that the QFabric team at Juniper Networks was "particularly targeted for staff reductions." One source told me, "I heard Juniper did a restructuring across the board and most groups were hit, but QFabric was the hardest hit." QFabric hardware engineers, software engineers, quality assurance, and research and development were all affected, that source said.

Another source, who claimed to have spoken to someone inside Juniper, reiterated this, and said he or she knew for a fact that QFabric engineers were actively looking for work.

Does this mean QFabric is dead and Juniper is walking away from it? Absolutely not.

When Juniper confirmed layoffs were happening, I asked a spokesperson to comment on the speculation about the QFabric team. This is how the company responded: "Innovation is the lifeblood of Juniper. We've consistently achieved the highest overall market growth in Ethernet switching, and customers continue to adopt QFabric. We are focused on delivering innovative solutions in the data center that drive revenue for customers."

That was the statement with which I went to press on Friday. On Monday, Juniper informed me it had more information about the layoffs. A Juniper spokesperson said it was inaccurate to say the layoffs primarily affected the QFabric team. However, I never reported that. I reported that the layoffs particularly targeted the QFabric team. QFabric didn't represent the majority of the layoffs, just a large portion. That was what I had gathered from the conversations I had with people.

Juniper also offered this statement: “Our actions to reduce operating expenses fall across our support functions, including supply chain, procurement, SG&A [Selling, General & Administrative expenses], as well as R&D. They are being carefully planned and managed to maximize efficiencies in our cost structure while preserving the investments in innovation in our core businesses of data center, routing, switching and security."

Juniper said it will continue to actively develop both hardware and software for the QFabric portfolio. Of that, I have no doubt. When I asked the company spokesperson whether the QFabric team had seen a higher percentage of layoffs than other parts of the company, that person reiterated that the cuts were across the board, and that Juniper was not going to disclose a break-out of percentages for each business unit affected by the cuts. That's a reasonable thing to say. Few companies would do that. But the bottom line is that I've heard nothing that convinces me my story is inaccurate, only that some people are jumping to extreme -- and probably false --conclusions (i.e., Juniper is giving up on QFabric).

I don't think QFabric is dead. I think Juniper remains committed to it. However, I do think Juniper is being realistic about how many resources it can devote to a good product with an unusually long sales cycle, especially when the market is being disrupted by new technologies like software defined networking. The layoffs don't signal an end to QFabric, they signal exactly what Juniper has been saying from the start: It wants to continue to innovate, and it believes it can do that with a leaner QFabric team.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Shamus McGillicuddy, News Director.

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