A sluggish economy is a perfect time for slugging it out in the datacenter.
That seemed to be Juniper Networks' rally cry at its annual analyst conference last week as the company launched an aggressive campaign to expand its enterprise business with a targeted assault on the datacenter. Juniper disclosed that it is working with partners on a multiyear project to develop a converged switching fabric for the datacenter; and unveiled a top-of-rack 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch optimized for low latency server access.
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The developments come against a backdrop of a sputtering worldwide economy in which overall IT spending is expected to drop by as much as 15 percent from last year, according to Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson. Johnson would not speculate on when he expects spending to pick back up, but did say that the malaise, as well as current trends in enterprise networking, play to Juniper's strengths.
Customer requirements for "centralized" computing architectures in which resources are physically housed in datacenters and dispersed to remote locations through cloud computing and virtualization demand the "pure play high performance networking" that Juniper espouses, Johnson said. Juniper claims it can lower network operations costs in the datacenter by 41 percent and power consumption by 44 percent over incumbent systems.
Juniper's datacenter introductions are also a direct hit on Cisco's ambitions in this market. Cisco -- like Juniper -- is looking to make the network a centerpiece of next-generation datacenter architectures. But Cisco is also branching off into the compute space, dominated by longtime partners IBM and HP, with a blade server offering of its own.
Cisco's California blade server, expected in the first half of this year, could strain the company's relationships with IBM and HP. Juniper, meanwhile, stressed that it intends to eagerly partner with datacenter compute, storage, and software vendors to accelerate its ambitions.
"We are going to partner for success in the datacenter," said Juniper Founder and CTO Pradeep Sindhu at last week's analyst conference.
Sindhu added that the datacenter needs three advances: a purpose built, high-performance network; tighter coupling between compute, storage, and service elements and the network; and a single management system for policies and virtualization.
"These will not be brought to you by vendors with 70 percent market share with no interest in upsetting the status quo," he said, in a thinly veiled reference to Cisco.