Thursday, February 17, 2011

How About This for an Interesting Merger - Juniper and Riverbed

At the beginning of the year, the editors at Network World send us bloggers a question of mergers we expect in the next year. It's a guessing game (for fun) and an idea for a blog.

I'm a bit late to the fun this year, but I read something a couple weeks ago that made me think ofJuniper and Riverbed.

Riverbed, the market leader in WAN Acceleration, sells the Steelhead hardware appliance which can run a separate operating system inside the Steelhead's RiOS operating system. This feature is calledRiverbed Services Platform (RSP). It's like VMWare virtual machine inside RiOS. You can run Windows Server, McAfee security software, video streaming, and more. What caught my eye a couple weeks ago was that Vyatt's network OS can also running in the RSP on the Steelhead.

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Now, with all due respect to Vyatta (please don't spam me saying how great Vyatta is, it probably is, not the point of this blog), that company does not have the market share or network industry reputation of Juniper. Juniper is a well known networking company with a strong routing and switching reputation and a good OS - JunOS. Psychologically, customers would be much more comfortable replacing Cisco with Juniper than with Vyatta. Juniper also has LAN switching products and wireless. This gets close to a complete branch networking solution.

What Juniper doesn't have is a good WAN Acceleration solution; today they have the WXC line (I think, who buys that stuff?). After Juniper bought Peribit back in 2005, they essentially orphaned the product and it has steadily lost market share. So, they have JunOS, switches, wireless, but no WAN Acceleration. Enter Riverbed.

Riverbed brings not only WAN Acceleration, but the ability to reduce the hardware footprint at the branch. Instead of buying Juniper routers, just buy the Steelheads and run JunOS inside the RSP (like Vyatta does). Add in Juniper LAN switches and wireless and now you have a compelling branch network solution based on JunOS routing and switching:

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Juniper is market valued at 22.94B:

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While Riverbed, even with a big stock rise in the last year, is market valued at 6.35B:

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So, Juniper would do the buying, but it would have to be a merger of peers to afford it.

I think it could happen. :-)

Or maybe Juniper will just license JunOS to run in the RSP (like McAfee did). Ok, that might be simpler.

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