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Juniper Networks: Offering innovative products to meet customer needs

September 05, 2016

By Mridula Pandey

After several ups and downs over the past several years, the telecom sector is finally witnessing a degree of policy and regulatory stability. This is an encouraging trend for industry stakeholders, as greater clarity will enable businesses to better plan their investments. Telecom operators, in particular, are investing in expanding their coverage. They are building data centres and innovation laboratories to offer better services to their subscribers. To this end, Juniper Networks has been playing a key role in supporting operators to realise their objective.

Headquartered in the US, Juniper Networks is a networking company with innovation fundamental to its DNA and aims to “connect everything and empower everyone”. It entered the Indian telecom market in 2000 through its subsidiary Juniper Networks India Private Limited. Since then, it has expanded both its portfolio as well as its consumer base to secure a foothold in the Indian market.

Key business verticals

Sajan Paul, chief technology officer, Juniper Networks India, is of the view that telecom operators in India are fundamentally focused on increasing revenue from operations and improving customer satisfaction while reducing their cost of operations. In order to achieve these goals, Juniper has identified three main areas in which operators would need operational support. “We want to be above the curve when it comes to building solutions and frameworks and we are implementing this for three sectors – routing, switching and security,” explains Paul.

The company has developed one of the highest capacity packet optical converged core routers for telecom operators. It is called the PTX reserve router and has been deployed by several companies across the globe. It also offers a range of high performance switches for various applications in its portfolio. On the security front, Juniper has many multi-terabit security solutions in its portfolio.

Apart from helping operators meet their cellular network requirements, Juniper supports them in their enterprise business. In India, many telecom operators have diversified to serve the needs of large enterprise customers across industry verticals. For instance, Bharti Airtel, Tata Communications and Reliance Communications have separate business units specifically for these customers, under which they provide bandwidth and value-added services. “A key trend that we have witnessed is that a growing number of enterprises have become telco-driven, which means that they would like the operator to take charge of their bandwidth and global connectivity requirements. In fact, enterprises are ready to give a much larger managed services deal to operators that can deliver the desired service,” says Paul.

Juniper has a series of solutions for routing, switching and security, classified into different performance levels for operators that are building telecom infrastructure for an enterprise.

Further, Juniper serves large enterprises directly and has several innovative products and solutions for this consumer segment, especially for IT and IT-enabled services, and banking and financial services companies. The company also offers appliance-based and virtualised security frameworks. Besides, it has one of the most enhanced data central cloud portfolios for enterprises wanting to build their data centres on the cloud. It also offers optical frameworks for enterprises looking to build interconnected data centres for disaster recovery.

Market reach

Over the past 16 years of operations in India, Juniper has collaborated with all the key telecom operators in the country. According to Paul, the internet backbone and broadband infrastructure of all major telecom operators relies on Juniper. In the enterprise segment, the company is present in all the major cities and has a robust partner ecosystem in place. “Enterprise business is all about reach and the service provider business about focus. We have been able to achieve both,” says Paul. In the first half of 2016, the company has already received 12 new contracts from telecom operators, public sector units and web-based companies.

India plays an important role in Juniper’s global growth strategy. This is evident from the fact that close to one-third of the company’s software development workforce is based in India, its largest presence outside the US. While Juniper’s products and solutions are developed in collaboration with various teams working across the globe, the company has equipped its Indian workforce with the capacity and skill set to develop a product right from its inception to final delivery.

Emerging technologies

Juniper’s traditional products and solutions have witnessed significant uptake. However, with all these conventional requirements transforming into software requirements, the company is now developing software defined networking (SDN) solutions to cater to this emerging demand.

It has already released an SDN solution called Fusion for enterprises and for cloud operators. “Our customers are asking for solutions that can be configured through software and managed centrally. This shows that SDN is gaining traction. While SDN has applications in many areas, deployment on campuses and in data centres is a low-hanging fruit that we are planning to tap,” says Paul.

However, SDN has a different connotation for telecom service providers. While SDN deployment for enabling the cloud has witnessed significant uptake among operators, many other applications are yet to find takers.

An important area that Juniper is working on is wide area network (WAN)-SDN. This solution is based on the premise that a service provider, when building its national long distance or converged network, will aggregate its mobility traffic, enterprise traffic and residential traffic collected from thousands of points of presence across India into its core network. In such a situation, traffic control, network uptime and service levels can pose challenges. However, it can be made easier through SDN. For this purpose, Juniper has developed a solution, called NorthStar WAN SDN Network Controller, which offers planning, engineering and software defined control of an operator’s network. In India, Juniper has tied up with a few operators for this solution it which is at various stages of deployment.

Future plans and outlook

Juniper’s offerings for the Indian market are a testament to the fact that it is investing significantly in the country. “We want to grow above the market growth rate and add to our customer base,” says Paul.

However, there are certain challenges that the company faces. In the telecom sector, network growth is completely based on customer demand and availability of resources. Service providers plan their investments over a cycle of three to five years based on customer demand. Therefore, even before developing a product, vendors need to work with the planning and engineering team of the operator, guide them through their network engineering process, predict their traffic and help them work out strategies for monetising their assets.

Meanwhile, industry-wide challenges such as those related to policy and regulatory frameworks have an impact on players across the value chain, including vendors. For instance, in order to expand wireless services, operators need spectrum. However, if the policy and regulatory scenario leads to inadequate supply of spectrum, it will affect the expansion plans of operators as well as vendors.

The company is aware of these challenges and is, therefore, keeping a close watch on the developments in the sector. According to Paul, the existing telecom infrastructure is not sufficient to meet the exponential data growth that the country is witnessing. Moreover, the sale of spectrum in the popular 700 MHz band may result in huge infrastructural growth in the sector. Therefore, Juniper is gearing up to tap the opportunities arising from this expansion. In addition, the company intends to focus on the 5G segment, which is another area of expansion. While the industry is concentrating on 4G deployments at present, Juniper is already in talks with several players for 5G deployments and is incubating 5G mobility products and solutions.

As a result of Juniper’s unique approach, it has been able to cater to both telecom service providers as well as the enterprise market, which has not been possible for many vendors. Going forward, the company is expected to strengthen its position in the market with its continued focus on these two key industry segments.


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