Juniper’s Shopping List

In a few hours, Juniper Networks is going to kick off its analyst day, outlining its strategy for the future and how it plans to compete with Cisco Systems and newer Chinese rivals. But one question on everyone’s lips is going to be: who will Juniper buy next? Its last acquisition, NetScreen, got it into the enterprise/security markets, but had a rocky start. With the telecommunication service providers consolidating quickly, most on Wall Street would want to know what Juniper does next. After all Juniper CEO Scott Kirens boasted at the end of last year that he had $1.5 billion and was out shopping.

Buying a wireless WLAN switch maker is an obvious thing to do. Cisco Systems just bought AireSpace for $450 million, and others like Siemens have filled out their portfolio. Others like Juniper have to do something. The demand for secure, enterprise class WLAN switches is increasing, and Juniper will have to address that. It has two options when it comes to buying WLAN switch makers – Aruba Networks and Colubris. In recent weeks I have heard serious talks between various parties. There was some talk that Juniper had offered $210 million for Aruba but company wanted more than that. Aruba officials deny everything. Juniper is apparently testing Aruba’s products, a source says. The only other credible player in the market – Trapeze Networks is said to have aligned with Nortel Networks and 3Com. Colubris does make sense for Juniper. It is more telecom/carrier focused and has products that could meet the stringent requirements of big carriers.

There are other names which have been linked with Juniper Networks in other product categories. Switch vendors such as Foundry Networks and Extreme Networks, and others such as F5 Networks are said to be on company’s shopping list as well, though the details are sketchy. Light Reading had reported in the past, that Foundry and Juniper came pretty close to tying the knot, but didn’t! Ditto for Extreme as well!

Still, Juniper has a lot to crow about. It is slowly but surely diversifying its customers base. Yesterday the company snagged Israeli carrier, Bezeq as a customer. It also announced that Red Electrica Telecomunicaciones (RET), a data solutions and broadband services provider in Spain, operating under the brand name Albura has also signed on as a customer. A few weeks ago, the company had snagged Indian backbone service provider, RailTel as a customer. RailTel is backed by the Indian railways which is using its right of way to build a 40,000 kilometer network that will have about 4000 pops by 2008. Juniper’s M-series routers will be deployed in 38 cities in India. Juniper has also made slow but steady foray into the wireless market with its J20 series of routers. Hutchinson, Telstra and Cingular Wireless are among company’s wireless customers.