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Juniper aligns with Ruckus Wireless against Cisco, HP

Juniper Networks has partnered with Ruckus Wireless to become a stronger competitor against Cisco and HP in the enterprise W-Fi market.

Juniper Networks is partnering with Ruckus Wireless to build a stronger product portfolio for competing against Cisco and Hewlett-Packard in the fast-growing wireless networking market.

Juniper and Ruckus announced the partnership this week. The companies will sell Juniper EX Series Ethernet Switches with Ruckus ZoneFlex access points (APs). The package will also include the Ruckus SmartZone Wi-Fi management platform.

Juniper has a similar partnership with Ruckus rival Aruba Networks. Analysts have been predicting that deal would disappear ever since HP announced in February it would acquire Aruba for $2.7 billion. The transaction closed in May.

While Juniper says it will hold onto its Aruba partnership, experts believe Ruckus products will be offered to customers first. "You don't want to bring HP into an account," said Forrester Research analyst Andre Kindness.

Juniper and Ruckus also plan to partner on other enterprise Wi-Fi technology. Ruckus will provide software for mobile device provisioning and onboarding, while Juniper will sell the SRX Series Services Gateways firewall.

Juniper, HP, Cisco compete for enterprise Wi-Fi

Juniper, HP and Cisco are battling for sales from enterprises upgrading wireless networks to the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard. APs built on the specification have the highest throughput, up to 6.9 Gbps, for supporting the growing number of mobile devices used by employees.

The enterprise wireless LAN (WLAN) market will increase from $5.1 billion in 2014 to $12.1 billion in 2019, according to a March research report published by MarketsandMarkets. In the first quarter of this year, Cisco's share of enterprise WLAN revenue worldwide was nearly 48%, followed by Aruba, 14%, and Ruckus, 7%, according to IDC.

Ruckus sells to carriers (Juniper's largest customer base) and enterprises, a market in which Juniper wants to increase share, Kindness said. Also, because Aruba is primarily in the enterprise market, Ruckus is a better partner for Juniper.

"[Ruckus'] ability to serve both markets is in perfect alignment with Juniper's strategy," said Kindness.

Carriers resell wireless gear to large venues like stadiums, airports and convention centers and to large retailers like Starbucks.

But now that Juniper is teaming up with Ruckus, the question industry observers are asking is whether their relationship will affect Ruckus' partnership with Avaya and Alcatel-Lucent. "It'll be interesting to see if there's a change with those two companies," said Kindness.

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