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Riverbed, Juniper enter technology-sharing partnership

Application delivery control and mobile technology at heart of deal

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A new technology partnership between Riverbed and Juniper will see the latter license Riverbed's application delivery controller for use in its enterprise networking gear -- for a $75 million fee.

The deal will also integrate Riverbed's Steelhead mobile technology with Juniper's Pulse client, potentially strengthening both firms' positions in the smartphone and tablet sectors.

Juniper executive vice president of software solutions Bob Muglia said in a statement that Riverbed's technology helps fill gaps in its product lineup.

"Riverbed's application acceleration and WAN optimization solutions will complement our strategic focus on delivering high-performance networking infrastructure and further enhance our position in both datacentre and consumer and business device domains," he said.

Jim Frey, managing research director for Enterprise Management Associates, says integrating Riverbed technology is a win for Juniper.

"Juniper's looking for better coverage, and didn't have this kind of technology within their portfolio. This makes them more fully competitive with Cisco, for instance," he says.

Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst Mark Fabbi agrees, saying that Juniper's struggles in 2011 have prompted a more aggressive attitude from the company.

"[In 2011] there was all this hype about QFabric, but they didn't really have anything to deliver yet. When they delivered it, while it was interesting technology, it overshot what most of the market would need, and so it was really difficult to get started with it," he says, adding that the company recently released a more accessible version of the technology.

Now, Fabbi says, Juniper is acting with more urgency - and reaping the rewards.

"It seems like they are determined to grow share at the cost of margins. We've seen them really aggressively discounting and they're really attempting to displace Cisco in some big accounts, and we've seen them have success doing that," he says.

Existing Juniper partner Radware - another ADC technology provider - is likely to be less pleased by the announcement. That company says its current deal with Juniper remains in place, but spokesperson Mike Lordi declined to comment directly on the new arrangement.

According to Gartner's Fabbi, the new deal provides Juniper with a higher degree of control over the ADC functionality.

The deal with Radware, he says, "is not dead, but certainly from a strategic importance perspective, it's very clear that the investments from Juniper are going to be with the relationship with Riverbed."

Riverbed Chief Marketing Officer David Greene says the agreement helps his company's market share considerably.

"The deal gives an immediate boost to our core technology, and gets it into the hands of far more customers in a form factor and to a market segment that we simply hadn't targeted and did not plan to target," he says.

And the experts concur. EMA's Frey says that network management and optimization are particularly important in light of the huge, fast changes that are occurring at the application layer.

"As much as you would like to be able to handle that all with the core networks, it's very difficult to handle the diversity and change and the potential problems that threaten performance and effectiveness of the networking tier," he says.


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