HPE recently made massive waves in the IT networking space by announcing the acquisition of Juniper Networks in a deal worth $14 billion. While most have proclaimed this as an excellent long-term strategic move by HPE to better compete against Cisco, which offers a wide range of compute, network, and security solutions, only time will tell where Juniper technologies and assets will be positioned in the market. It also may give pause to existing Juniper and HPE Aruba customers or to those looking to purchase Juniper/Aruba enterprise solutions in the new year. Here’s my take on the acquisition as it stands now.
Markets that HPE will likely target with Aruba and Juniper Tech
From a network security standpoint, HPE is poised to gain a host of much-needed firewall, SASE, and threat prevention software and services that will likely be targeted at both service providers and standard enterprises. However, when it comes to switching hardware/software, Wi-Fi hardware/software, and software-defined network (SDN) orchestration, these areas where significant overlap exists will need to be addressed by HPE.
From a switching standpoint, HPE may opt to designate Juniper switching hardware and software for the cloud service provider (CSP) segment. Juniper has a stronghold in this space and is a leader in designing and manufacturing custom ASICs. When it comes to the enterprise, however, decisions will need to be made as to whether Aruba will focus on campus edge and smaller data centers. This would include campus switching, Wi-Fi, and SD-WAN technologies.
Several AIOps and network management solutions are now under the HPE banner – all of which tout artificial intelligence capabilities. HPE acquired Aruba Networks in 2015. Since then, HPE Aruba has launched its Aruba Networking Central AIOps platform. The Juniper acquisition adds two additional network orchestration and automation solutions to the portfolio with Mist and Apstra. Mist and Aruba Networking Central offer the ability to manage campus edge and branch office networks intelligently. Aruba Networking Central and Apstra are also popular options for data center automation and streamlined operations.
The potential that HPE will work to integrate the features and functionality of Mist into Aruba Networking Central and focus this offering on the enterprise campus edge and single-vendor data centers is high. Alternatively, since the Apstra data center orchestration system allows for multi-vendor support, HPE may focus its marketing and sales efforts on the CSP segment, which more commonly operates in mixed-vendor network architectures.
Merging of Technical Support
While it won’t happen overnight, expect HPE to merge certain technical support services together eventually. This is likely the biggest concern of Juniper customers as they’ve grown accustomed to how Juniper’s support model works and what to expect.
That said, HPE Aruba maintains separate technical support from other HPE support contract services. It’s possible that Juniper support will remain unchanged. However, figuring out how to manage three separate and vital technical support centers to deliver what enterprise and CSP customers expect will likely get complicated.
Finally, another US-based Cisco competitor
For nearly two decades, Cisco has been the only US company to truly offer end-to-end solutions spanning the LAN, WAN, branch office and cloud for networking, data security, and compute. The HPE acquisition of Juniper finally changed this landscape. While this finally gives Cisco a true competitor in every segment, it also raises questions about how other networking and compute vendors will respond to contend. Further technology acquisitions will likely occur in the coming months and years so that other enterprise and CSP technology vendors can stack up with what Cisco and HPE will have regarding their technology portfolio. I believe this is the acquisition “tip of the iceberg,” and it will be fascinating to watch what unfolds.