Like the polar ice caps, the traditional edge of the network — supporting desktops, printers, APs, VoIP phones — is eroding and giving way to a virtual edge. With the thawing of IT spending, growth and availability of physical edge ports isn’t keeping up with devices connecting to the network; 802.11 and cellular will be the future of most connections for smartphones, notebooks, tablets, HVAC controls, point of sale, etc.

Juniper Networks has been slowly and methodically creating infrastructure to support this new paradigm and completed it with its latest acquisition. Belden agreed to Juniper’s offer to acquire Trapeze Networks, an enterprise wireless local area network (WLAN) system and division within Belden, for approximately $152 million. Jim Duffy’s articles, “Cisco's new WLAN competitor gets favorable reviews on move” and “Juniper buys WLAN pioneer Trapeze for $152 million,” provide some nice background information on the road Juniper traveled to pass up Meru and Aruba for Trapeze. This leaves Brocade, Extreme, and Enterasyswith Motorola, Meru, Aruba, Bluesocket, Aerohive, and Meraki as potential acquisitions to put them on par with HP and Cisco, who have their own WLAN solutions.

Much has been written in articles and blogs on how this acquisition was long overdue. Many believe Juniper has left money on the table by not bringing a WLAN solution in-house. However, Forrester believes that Juniper played its hand well by conservatively building up its portfolio and yet slipping itself into the perfect pole position for a tidal wave of empowerment. Specifically, we see that Juniper:

  • Let them come, and then built it. Most companies fail by not focusing and wasting their resources trying to do too much at one time with nothing to show in the end. Juniper intelligently and methodically developed a complete enterprise networking fabric solution by taking one step at a time. After becoming a major player in the routing space, Juniper entered the security market with Netscreen in 2003 and developed a formidable and respectable set of solutions. In 2008, Juniper released EX series switches and JUNOS software, which has gained the visibility among enterprise organizations that many vendors like HP dream to have. Juniper’s fourth leg, the Trapeze acquisition, gives it a position at the end-to-end infrastructure table with Cisco.
  • Will build on Pulse to offer a differentiated wireless experience. Benjamin Gray and Christian Kane’sMarket Overview: Smartphone Management” highlights that I&O managers will be responding to overwhelming requests for the infrastructure to support empowered employees; they will dictate the technology they will use to solve business issues. In addition, carriers in America are starting to mimic European carriers by creating tiered data plans. Price-sensitive yet data-hungry users will be snacking on their company’s connections. Juniper recognized these signals, released Junos Pulse Mobile Security software, and shopped for a wireless infrastructure provider.

What does this mean for I&O managers? Juniper’s acquisition shines a light on a couple of key points:

  • Juniper can bring automation and opex advantages to wireless. I&O managers will benefit from Juniper’s strategy and offerings. I&O will have a choice of more than one vendor that can offer a bundled networking solution that connects users via wired, wireless, or remote (branch office or home) connections. These bundled solutions, encompassing different domains, promise to offer lower opex costs since they will be managed from a single pane of glass. The unified infrastructure running beneath offers opportunities for automated management across multiple domains since it can be managed from a single console. Juniper has done well to build up its JUNOS capabilities and automation in particular. We believe they will extend these capabilities to the Trapeze assets.
  • Wireless deployments will explode next year. iPhone and iPad shook the foundation of mobile phone and notebook manufacturers while simultaneously crushing the enterprise mandates on what they will support-60% of organizations to support personal smartphones (see “Market Overview: Smartphone Management”). The carriers are moving to tiered data plans so users will be looking to offload their connections.  Wi-Fi will be the new black .  This means that I&O managers will need to deploy a flexible, open, and secure infrastructure to withstand the impact of a tidal wave of new devices and operating systems that will hit in 2011.