Juniper: We have 200 QFabric data center switch customers now

Juniper says it now has 200 customers for its QFabric data center switches, having gained 50 since the first quarter.

QFabric and other enterprise switches, such as Juniper's EX line, sold well during the company's second quarter, company officials reported earlier this week. Among new QFabric customers is General Dynamics, a multibillion dollar systems integrator for the aerospace and defense industries.

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Juniper's second quarter came in slightly ahead of company expectations, with revenue up 4% from the first quarter but down 4% from the second quarter 2011. Net income per share was up 19% from the first quarter - beating Wall Street estimates - but down 39% from the second quarter 2011.

Total switching product revenue increased 13% to $140 million. And Juniper's Enterprise revenue was $393 million, up 13% sequentially though flat from last year.

Nonetheless, "we are pleased with the momentum of EX, QFabric and wireless LAN, which all grew sequentially and year-over-year," said Juniper CFO Robyn Denholm during the company's Q2 earnings call, a transcript of which can be found on the Seeking Alpha site.

The company reported "very good uptake" of QFabric nodes in the quarter, having gained 50 more customers for the product to reach 200 in all. QFabric includes nodes, which can function as top-of-rack switches and access points into the QFabric interconnect, the core switching component of the data center line.

Juniper said it's also seeing a growing number of QFabric node customers purchase and either go through certification or deployment of the full QFabric node/interconnect system. Juniper recently announced a lower-end QFabric offering, the QFX3000-M, a fixed 16-node interconnect that provides a lower entry point for those customers who want to try the full QFabric system.

"We've surpassed 200 customers in the quarter, continued to see good progress on the QFX3500 with the top-of-rack and the nodes and certainly, a subset of those customers purchasing continue to deploy the full QFabric system," said Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson during the earnings conference call.

General Dynamics has deployed QFabric as part of its core network in two of its U.S. data centers, Johnson said.

"We have momentum in switching, and we believe we will continue to outgrow the market, despite the current mixed outlook for overall enterprise spending," he said.

Juniper still has work to do to bulk up sales of its SRX security product in the enterprise, however, company officials acknowledged. In the second quarter, though, Juniper did see sequential and yearly growth in enterprise security "for the first time in quite awhile," Johnson said.

Juniper's working on enhancements to the SRX platform in an effort to appeal to large enterprises and smaller deployments at the campus and branch level, said Robert Muglia, executive vice president of Juniper's Software Solutions Division. Current work is focused on the SRX's AppSecure application visibility and control package, he said.

Meanwhile, Juniper clarified where it sees the application delivery control (ADC) technology licensed from Riverbed fitting alongside the ADC technology it current uses from Radware. Radware's ADC technology is written to the Juniper Junos SDK on the MX router, and then Juniper and Radware collaborate on joint sales and marketing to MX customers, company officials said. It's just like the arrangement Juniper has with other ecosystem partners developing to Juniper platforms, they said.

Riverbed is more strategic. Juniper is actually licensing Riverbed's Steelhead mobile technology to include in its Pulse client software, and perhaps other Juniper-branded products.

"In terms of our R&D investment, it will be focused on the Riverbed technology," Muglia said. "That's where we'll be putting our own investment. And in terms of bringing Juniper-based products to market, it will be based on that technology."

Several years ago, Juniper acquired two companies in the ADC and WAN optimization space: Redline and Peribit. Not much came from those acquisitions, but now that Juniper's in the data center switching space it's time to revisit the technology, Johnson says.

"We are in the switching fabric business in the data center today. We were not back then," Johnson said. "And so there's clearly, in our opinion, a technology synergy related to the ADC and the [QFabric] systems. The fact that we built Layer 2, Layer 3, load balancing into our underlying systems and then complement that now with Layer 7 ADC in systems like MXs, SRX and QFabric allows us to bring this technology in the form of a line card that now is tightly integrated into the systems."

Separately, Juniper officials addressed this week's big deal news - VMware's $1.26 billion acquisition of network virtualization start-up Nicira - and how it may impact its own plans in software-defined networking (SDN). Juniper has been hinting of its SDN plans and directions at analyst meetings and trade shows.

"The work we're doing in our switching and fabric business as it relates to data centers is very applicable and very relevant to Nicira and very applicable and relevant to what VMware is doing," Johnson said.

Muglia said Juniper is now providing software programmable products through integration with the Junos SDK, and is in the process of building "production-capable" OpenFlow-based SDN technology across a variety of Juniper products for 2013.

"We'll work very closely across the industry, including with partners like VMware, to ensure that Juniper Networks, the platforms and the software that we provide is the best complement to the software that they deliver," he said.

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 25 years, 21 at Network World. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy.

Read more about lan and wan in Network World's LAN & WAN section.

This story, "Juniper: We have 200 QFabric data center switch customers now" was originally published by Network World.

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