We attended a well-organized and information-packed virtual conference hosted by Juniper Networks last week. While there were many themes (400G, telco cloud, AI, Mist), the one that really came through was how much the Mist acquisition has reinvigorated the Juniper organization. About a year ago, Juniper made its acquisition of the Wi-Fi startup. It is clear a year later that Juniper’s Enterprise strategy has been “Mistified.” We will share some Mist statistics from conference and our thoughts, as well.
Juniper shared some milestones that now characterize the Juniper Enterprise group:
We asked the company what has worked well with the acquisition, including whether the deal structure may have contributed towards to its success. Juniper executives explained that there was nothing special about how the acquisition was structured beyond the normal incentives for the acquired team. What happened after the acquisition, though, is somewhat unique: in effect, the Enterprise group at Juniper was subject to a reverse merger with Mist, whereby the Mist management team now leads the group. Perhaps the fact that the Mist team is in charge of the show explains the rapid integration of the existing Juniper products into the Mist AI management system. Perhaps, also, the integration went well was because the Juniper products (switches, SD-WAN and Security) were designed to collect and easily share telemetry data for use by the Mist AI system.
Juniper also featured a customer – whose name we cannot share – that is a major fast food chain across the US. It currently has 10,000 Wi-Fi Access Points with another vendor and recently made the decision to replace them with Mist Wi-Fi 6 APs by the end of 2022. We found it interesting how important support is for IoT and the increased importance of outdoor Wi-Fi during the pandemic. The company is deploying four indoor APs and three outdoor APs per restaurant. The customer spokesperson shared that Mist does AI-based, dynamic radio resource management (RRM) very well and he shared numerous screenshots showing power levels that were kept around 11-13 dBm instead of values he recalls seeing closer to 20 on the existing infrastructure. At this point, the customer has installed Mist APs in over 50 restaurants and he says he has not had a single Wi-Fi-related trouble ticket from these locations. He is also looking to implement location services in the future with the company’s vBLE technology.
The company’s cloud-based location analytics capability is designed to serve as a contact tracing and crowd management system to allow Juniper WLAN customers to reduce risks as employees and visitors go to the campus environment. The company introduced this contact tracing capability in May 2020. The company said its cloud-based contact tracing service is something that can operate on top of Juniper infrastructure, as well as its competitors. The company shared details about a large elite US university that is using the service and decided to upgrade to Juniper WLAN infrastructure as well.
Our view is that Juniper is well-positioned in the Enterprise market because by year-end it will have an AI-driven, single-pane operations system that covers Wi-Fi, Ethernet Switching, Security and SD-WAN. This is an enviable position because increasingly customers are making purchasing decisions for various equipment at the same time, and they are looking to reduce ongoing operational costs. By managing a system with a single-pane, customers can correlate customer experience, application responses and network issues in an integrated system, and pinpoint corrective action. This is not to say that Juniper has an exclusive on single-pane managed systems covering all these network systems – Cisco, Fortinet and others lay claim in the same. Juniper is in good company.
Throughout the years, I’ve attended Aruba’s Atmosphere conferences. This year, I missed the in-person connections of the previous years, but Aruba did a great job transitioning over to a virtual event with engaging content…and some green screens. At Aruba’s user conference, Atmosphere, the company informed attendees of its new single-pane, cloud-native platform called ESP. We were impressed not only with ESP but how well it delivered the message under tough circumstances, using Zoom webinar. We want to highlight the ESP launch because it launches the company into a new category, that of single-pane management. We expect that customers value the capability to manage Wi-Fi, Switching, SD-WAN, 5G and IoT using the same system, without “swivel-chairing” between multiple software interfaces. And, by combining all these different “edge” systems to a single manager, this allows for a unified policy, security and insights system.
ESP. What we learned about Edge Services Platform (ESP) at the Atmosphere show. ESP is an automated, all-in-one platform that operates in the cloud or on-premises, and is designed to deliver a cloud experience at the edge. Large or small companies can use ESP, and it is also available on its controller-less APs, and can be used across large campuses down to branches and to remote worker locations. Now, with the launch of ESP, data gathered from APs, switches, IoT devices, user devices and SD-WAN connections are retained in a single location, and thus this data can be analyzed together. Since all the telemetry data is in one place, the company can now use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to improve insights into how the network is performing, to improve the throughput (the company claims 15%), and reduce to the time to resolve issues (the company claims a 90% improvement). Aruba shared with attendees that it has 10M APs at customer sites – we see this large installed base, spinning off a lot of telemetry, as being a key advantage to Aruba, because AI systems get better with more data.
Greenlake. Aruba ESP can be consumed either as a service in the cloud or on-premise, as a managed service delivered through Aruba partner. Customers can also consume it as a network as a service through GreenLake. Greenlake is a Network as a Service offering recently introduced by Aruba that allows customers to pay for equipment and services monthly, as opposed to as an up-front expenditure.
Other new product announcements. UXI-6 sensor - the company announced a new sensor for gathering information from IoT and user systems. This data can be leveraged by software and services to enable asset tracking, contract tracing and other systems. Additionally, the company announced a new Ethernet Switch, the CX 6200 Switch Series. The new switch can run on enterprise campuses, branch access and data centers.
Contact Tracing. The company is also innovating for the future hybrid work environment. They are releasing a new set of contact and location tracing tools, and are working with a partner, Plexus. It uses a variety of data sets: Wi-Fi, BLE/Bluetooth, location-capabilities inherent in the infrastructure, wrist-bands, keycards, or Aruba asset tags. Wi-Fi-only is the base case and is the minimum data set that gets customers started immediately. As additional data sources, primarily those leveraging Bluetooth to improve tracking and capabilities of the contact tracing system. For expanded capabilities, Aruba Technology Partners integrate with Aruba infrastructures to monitor social distancing and group sizes, and generate contract tracing trees of potentially exposed individuals.