Juniper Networks Inc has plans to enter the emerging market for branch-in-a-box offerings, with routing, VoIP, firewall/VPN and other security functions in a single device for branch office environments.
BiaB is a term coined by analyst firm The Burton Group for these multi-function devices, hailed in its report Branch-in-a-Box Networking: Features and Futures as the way forward for this segment of the market, and Sunnyvale, California-based Juniper intends to compete in the space.
Branches will typically have access routers, switches and security, while their connectivity is evolving from E1 and DSL to broadband and Ethernet, said Hitesh Sheth, VP of Juniper’s security products group.
Sheth argued that Juniper already has firewalls from the NetScreen business, not to mention IDS/IPS technology, and enterprise routers with its J-series. While admitting that market reception for the latter had so far been tepid, he said the company is well placed to provide all the component parts of a BiAB device.
Clearly, the company’s expertise in IPsec VPNs, which were the forte of Juniper while NetScreen brought it an SSL business, is something that it considers key for this development.
There’s a trend towards using the internet as backup, or even primary connectivity, running IPsec over an E1 for the purpose, said Chris Spain, senior director of the company’s enterprise products and solutions division.
The WAN optimization and application acceleration technologies Juniper acquired earlier this year with the purchases of Peribit and Redline will also be bundled onto the device, as will the ability to handle VoIP. As the Burton report highlights, some BiaB devices already offer full IP PBX, and while this is not part of Juniper’s portfolio, it could conceivably call on its partner Avaya for this kind of functionality.
Of course, one might argue that branch office switching would also be a requirement for such a box, and that is an area from which Juniper is conspicuously absent. It made its name in carrier routing, where it is the clear number two behind Cisco, but its assault on the enterprise routing space is more recent and has enjoyed only limited success, while it has so far shied away from taking Cisco on its in Ethernet switching. Sheth does not consider this a problem where an eventual BiaB device is concerned, however.
Such a device will need Ethernet connectivity, but not necessarily switching, he began. And adding Ethernet ports won’t be a big deal: we can go to any commodity silicon vendor for that. We’ll add higher port densities to our existing products, going from four to 24.
Switching per se won’t be an issue, he argued, because branches will often have Ethernet switches in place already and we’ll happily co-exist with Cisco, 3Com or anyone else’s switches.
Juniper certainly won’t be alone in the BiaB market. Cisco pitches its Integrated Services Router for the branch office, for which it already offers modules for firewall/VPN, IDS/IPS, VoIP, app acceleration (the FineGround technology) and file acceleration (Actona).
A new player threw its hat into the ring earlier this year by the name of NetDevices, or NetD, whose device can be acquired with or without the routing functionality turned on, in recognition of the fact that branches will often not want to replace their existing routers just to get all the other functionality its product offers. The likes of Nortel and 3Com will also have ambitions in this space.
Sheth said the real competition would nonetheless be Cisco with the ISR, however, though in fact we’ll also compete with the low-end Catalyst switches and the Cisco firewalls, and all three Cisco products are in turn competing among themselves.