This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala's blog.

Juniper Networks has certainly seen its ups and downs over the past few years. The company is trying to move into new areas while its historical base of strength, routers, is under attack from not only arch-rival Cisco but also a number of other vendors trying to crack the router code, such as Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei. While the potential for share loss is always there, routing has always been something that Juniper has excelled at and, despite a more competitive landscape, I think Juniper will maintain its current market position.

A good indicator of this is the recent announcement from Verizon that it was selecting Juniper’s PTX Series router for its converged MPLS core. PTX will enable Juniper to converge all four of its IP networks onto a single MPLS network, saving Verizon millions in the long run. Without PTX, Verizon would have been faced with the daunting task of upgrading each of those networks separately. With more video, mobile and could computing traffic coming, and coming fast, having a single, converged network provides many advantages over trying to run multiple independent ones.

I haven’t spoken to anyone at Verizon or Juniper about this but I believe there are a number of reasons Verizon stayed with Juniper instead of looking at one of the alternatives. First is product familiarity. Verizon, like so many of the Tier 1 service providers, uses Juniper at the edge with products like MX platform or Juniper in the core of the network. Verizon happens to have both and the Juniper network will act as a high-speed foundation for future service delivery.

Another reason is technical strength. As I mentioned before, routing is what Juniper does best and the PTX is built on Juniper’s “JunosExpress” ASIC designed for much greater performance than older generations. Initially, Verizon will deploy the 8Tbps PTX5000 and will look to grow it from there. The PTX will be a key part of Verizon’s ability to build a 100-Gig backbone network that can handle all of the traffic from its legacy networks and allow the service provider to aggressively expand its footprint of FiOS and Ethernet services. The PTX platform is beefy enough that Verizon should be able to use this platform to increase bandwidth in the future to 400G or even terabit routing in the future.

Of all the new products Juniper has released over the past few years, I believe the PTX is one of the most important as it keeps its competitive edge in routing. Some of the other products, such as QFabric and MobileNext, tend to get more recognition since they’re tied to markets with lots of media attention, but routing is still the engine that makes Juniper go. For this reason, I think the win at Verizon was a key indicator that despite the competition, the router market remains a tough market for anyone but Juniper and Cisco to crack.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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