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New Infrastructure Could Be Fruit of Juniper Acquisitions

Juniper started its technology integration process last year when it bought NetScreen and began adding that vendor's security products to its own infrastructure offerings. Now Juniper plans to create a third major internal group, application products, which will let it integrate application-acceleration functions into its "Enterprise Infranet" architecture. With these capabilities in place, Juniper could help enterprises tune performance and security to fit specific apps and services in a way that can't be done with routers alone.

Of course, pieces are missing from Juniper's portfolio--for example, enterprise switching products, which are increasingly the locus of security and acceleration functions in corporate networks. Several switching vendors could easily help Juniper through a partnership, merger or outright acquisition, but Juniper's execs won't say whether such a deal is in the cards.

Industry observers have concerns about Juniper's ability to compete in the enterprise market. Under its current, carrier-oriented business model, Juniper is accustomed to high profit margins and low customer counts, but both Peribit and Redline have sold to broad enterprise audiences. To succeed, Juniper must find a way to combine its acquired technologies profitably and build out its channel partnerships.

No matter what the future of Juniper's technology integration plan, from here on, vendors will no longer be able to talk about enterprise infrastructure--or even Web services--without discussing application acceleration and performance. Although the idea of prioritizing or speeding application traffic is not new, Juniper's moves could bring applications and networks closer than ever, paving the way for app-specific network services that can be tuned, secured and guaranteed according to business priorities.