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Why I Switched Network Vendors after 12 Years from Cisco to Juniper Networks

by JasperJans ‎09-26-2011 05:54 AM - edited ‎09-26-2011 08:48 AM

This is a guest blog post. Views expressed in this post are original thoughts posted by Jasper Jans, Network Engineer at EspritXB. These views are his own and in no way do they represent the views of the company he works for.


About a year ago we decided it was time to look at our organically grown network infrastructure. Due to mergers and acquisitions it had put on some weight around the middle. Operating a network predominantly build around the Cisco portfolio, and hence pretty much unfamiliar with what else was available in the world of networking, we set out on a path to find a suitable replacement. So for the past year we have evaluated products and solutions from many vendors amongst others Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Juniper, MRV, Transmode and the likes. While going through the motions I came to some observations that I’d like to share with you.


Maybe I asked an odd question – I’ll let you guys be the judge of that – but when we started our evaluation we decided that instead of providing just a long list of requirements, we’d also include a question where the parties participating would not just present us with a list of equipment that would cover our requirements. Instead they were asked to look at our current design, challenge it, and propose what they thought would make the best way to build a new network that should take care of our needs going forward. Are you guys familiar with the “yes that is all possible” reply when you ask about several different design options? Juniper in combination with the integrator whom we were doing business with actually completely understood our question and our reasons for asking it. As one of the few parties they were willing, or maybe daring enough, to present us with a network design that I can honestly say we would not have considered before. Not only did they present us with a single answer to our design question; when we challenged them on it they had very plausible arguments on why we should do things differently and also where to draw the line. Is it taking a risk? I guess so. It is easy to present several options so that you increase the odds of presenting the one your customer is looking for. But to actually present a single solution as the best for our needs and to stick by it – that is showing a certain amount of faith in what you are selling if you’d ask me.


If you know and operate a single vendor network looking at other implementation options even something as basic as a CLI can be quite a learning curve. Looking at Junos however, which we were mostly unfamiliar with, was different. Somehow things clicked. Sure things were in a different place. Yes some commands were new, others unavailable. But there was a natural order to it all that made sense. Having an interface section that deals with interfaces and a routing section that deals with routing instead of mixing the two surely seemed odd at first, yet logical. Having a single CLI no matter the underlying hardware, having the same interface naming across platforms, it all helped to minimize the required learning curve.


I’m sure we have all done it at one point or another – let Google be your guide when it comes to finding platform information. One thing that struck me as odd – when looking for reviews, and comparisons of the Juniper product line Google was not very helpful. Sure I could find Juniper products pitched against similar products from other parties, but these tests often had a certain bias in the sense that these were paid for by someone who also specified the testing criteria. I had a really hard time finding independent test results for the products we were looking at. When I spoke to our Juniper contact about this I received a peculiar answer. I was told Juniper in general does not release test reports and comparisons, because as I had already observed myself – it is very hard to make a report that is unbiased towards one product or the other. Now the really interesting part about all this was the question I was asked in return; “Would there be something in particular I had in mind that I’d like to see feature or performance wise with regards to the Juniper equipment I was looking at? If so, Juniper would be happy to make said equipment, along with an engineer and test tools available for me in their lab in the Amsterdam office”. Being used to getting the slideware reply on a question this was a real breath of fresh air to me. One I’m happy to say I made use of more than once with very positive results.


We all know that IT departments are hard at work turning every piece of physical kit into something that runs as a virtual instance somewhere, all very foggy – or should I say cloudy. Looking at Juniper I discovered that a similar feature had been available for a long time in their products. The so called logical system option combined with a few other interesting design choices would allow us to rebuild our network using fewer physical devices while at the same time providing equal or higher levels of availability compared to what we were used to. In the end costs always play a role, and that is one area where virtualization is hard to beat.


I have learned a lot the past year about what products, technologies but also philosophies are out there in the world of networking when you look beyond what is familiar to you. The points mentioned above are just a few that came to mind. I’m very eager to hear about your own stories when you looked outside your comfort zone and considered another vendor. And for those of you that are considering a network refresh – all I can say is shop around, the grass might not be greener on the other side of the fence, but if you don’t open the gate and take a look you will never know. And for those of you wondering which products we went for in the end, it’s a combination of the MX-series (core/edge), M-series (edge), SRX-series (take a guess) and EX-series (out-of-band).


on ‎09-26-2011 01:44 PM

Hi Jasper


Interesting post, not often that I get to hear the customers side of the story and it's good to see that the channel model is working well out there in holland!


I'd be interested in understanding what the major technical obsticals/challanges you faced when migrating one one to the other and how much of the heavy-lifting the C2J tool did and whether you used Juniper's professional services? how long did the migration take start to finish as that must have been a lot work..


Again, nice work!

by JasperJans
on ‎09-27-2011 04:52 AM

Hi ssl_boy,


Thank you for your comments. The channel model works very well for us indeed. Our integrator adds significant value instead of just being the man-in-the-middle.


As far as obstacles - it's a work in progress so far. Might be material for a next blog to document what further discoveries we make along the line. I'll keep your questions in mind with regards to the followup.




Juniper Innovators Circle
About the Author
  • Prior to Juniper acquisition, Ankur was the Founder and CEO of Contrail Systems Inc - a pioneer in standards based network virtualization and scale-out networking software. Ankur has over 15 years of experience in building world-class networking products and leading high performance teams. Prior to Contrail, Ankur served as Chief Technology Officer and VP of Engineering at Aruba Networks, where he played critical roles in the rapid expansion of team, products, and global businesses. Before Aruba, Ankur helped drive Juniper’s initial entry into and expansion of the Ethernet Switching market. Ankur received his MSEE from Stanford University & BSEE from the University of Southern California.
  • I am an experienced leader in the Information Experience (iX) industry. For over 20 years, I've led information organizations at Juniper, Microsoft, Cisco, and Oracle to deliver quality technical documentation and information products to customers and partners across the globe.
  • Bob Dix currently serves as the Vice President of Government Affairs & Critical Infrastructure Protection for Juniper Networks. During his career, he has served in senior leadership roles in industry and government, including serving as Staff Director for the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census during the 108th Congress. He represents Juniper on the Industry Executive Point of Contact for the President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee ( NSTAC ), where he chaired the Cybersecurity Collaboration Task Force in 2009. He served as Chair of the Information Technology Sector Coordinating Council ( IT SCC ) from 2008 – 2010 and currently remains a member of the Executive Committee. Mr. Dix was elected in May, 2011 as Chair of the Partnership for Critical Infrastructure Security ( PCIS ). He also serves on the National Security Task Force for the U. S. Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the AFCEA Cyber Security Committee and Chairs the Supply Chain Assurance Subcommittee for TechAmerica. Additionally, Dix has actively worked to insure and coordinate private sector participation and collaboration with the National Exercise Program, intended to test our nation’s preparedness and resiliency. He served as Chair of the National Private Sector Working Group for National Level Exercise 2011 and 2010. In 2007 and 2009, Dix was honored with a prestigious Federal 100 Award, and was recognized in March, 2010 as the recipient of the annual FCW Industry Eagle Award. Dix also served as a local government elected official in Northern Virginia for 12 years and in his spare time coaches AAU/Travel girls basketball.
  • Jennifer Blatnik is vice president of cloud, security and enterprise portfolio marketing at Juniper Networks with focus on enterprise deployments of security, routing, switching, and SDN products, as well as cloud solutions. She has more than 20 years of experience helping enterprises solve network security challenges. Before joining Juniper, Jennifer served multiple roles at Cisco Systems, Inc., including directing product management for security technologies aimed at small to medium enterprises, as well as supporting managed services, cloud service architectures and go-to-market strategies. She holds a B.A. in Computer Science from University of California, Berkeley.
  • Jerry oversees all aspects of OpenLab which serves as a catalyst to spark the development of new innovative software applications or solutions that leverage the power of SDN/network programmability and intelligence. OpenLab is unique within Juniper and with its polished facility, globally accessible lab, and educational programs – such as the SDN “hackathons,” it serves as a tool for customer, partners, and academia. Prior to this position, Jerry led the development, management and marketing of the company’s strategic partnerships for video/unified communications, optical networking, and content/media delivery. In addition to handling the day-to-day oversight of the partnerships, he established new cross-partner go-to-market processes to drive and manage joint field opportunities. Before joining Juniper, Jerry led the Lucent Technologies application hosting/service provider marketing organization. He has over 25 years of experience in the data networking field with a focus on strategic alliance development, marketing, and technical field support. Jerry possesses a BS degree in Computer Science from St. John’s University in New York. He is active as a Juniper ambassador within the technology and academic community which includes advisory board positions with both NJIT and Rutgers in New Jersey.
  • Jonathan Davidson is executive vice president and general manager, Juniper Development and Innovation (JDI). In this role, he is responsible for driving strategy, development, and business growth for Juniper's entire portfolio including routing, switching, and security, as well as for the ongoing evolution of silicon technology and the Junos operating system. Prior to his current position, Davidson was senior vice president and general manager for Juniper’s Security, Switching and Solutions Business Unit (S3BU). In this role, he was responsible for leading innovation, growth and product development in data center, campus, branch, and cloud. Davidson joined Juniper in 2010 as vice president, Product Line Management for the Edge and Aggregation Business Unit where he was responsible for the product lifecycle management, strategy, implementation, solutions and go-to-market activity for a range of leading edge routing product families, such as the E, M and MX Series. Before joining Juniper, Davidson had a 15-year career in various leadership positions at Cisco.
  • Masum Mir is Vice President of Product, Solutions & Technical Marketing at Juniper Networks. Masum is responsible for the Switching product line, network management product line and optical technologies. Beside product leadership Masum also leads cloud strategy and solution architecture. Masum has 19 years of experience in communication and data networking industry with Expertise in Ethernet Switching, Data Center, Carrier Ethernet, Routing, overlay & network segmentation, Fabric technology & photonics technology.
  • Mike Marcellin is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, leading the global marketing team responsible for marketing Juniper’s product and services portfolio and stewarding the brand, driving preference for Juniper in the market, training our partners and account teams, and developing a differentiated information experience for our customers. Before joining the global marketing organization, Marcellin led business strategy and marketing for Juniper’s industry-leading portfolio of high-performance routing, switching and security products. Prior to joining Juniper in 2010, Marcellin served as Vice President of Global Managed Solutions for Verizon, where he oversaw product development and marketing of its managed IP networking, hosting, security and IT solutions for businesses around the world. He also served as Vice President of Global Product Marketing for Verizon Business, executive director of Verizon Business’ IP and Ethernet portfolio as well as leading the company’s eCRM marketing division. Marcellin began his career with MCI in 1994. Marcellin is a Board Member for the Telecommunications Industry Association and a Board Member of US Ignite, an NSF-sponsored initiative. Marcellin holds two patents and was a Rodman Scholar at the University of Virginia, where he received a bachelor of science degree with distinction in systems engineering. He is based in Sunnyvale, California.
  • Paul Obsitnik is Vice President of Service Provider Marketing for Juniper Networks Platform Systems Division (PSD), responsible for the marketing of Juniper’s portfolio of high performance routing, switching, and data center fabric products to Service Providers globally. Paul's team is responsible for marketing strategy, product marketing, go-to-market planning, and competitive analysis worldwide for the Service Provider segment. Obsitnik has extensive experience in marketing, sales and business development positions with a proven track record in creating technology markets. He has served in senior marketing and sales management positions at several companies including BridgeWave Communications, ONI Systems, NorthPoint Communications and 3Com. Paul holds a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Electrical Engineering from the United States Naval Academy and a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Graduate School of Business. Obsitnik is based in Sunnyvale, California.
  • Pradeep Sindhu founded Juniper Networks in February 1996, and has held several central roles in shaping the company. He currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Board and Chief Technology Officer, and is responsible for the company's technical roadmap as well as day-to-day design and development of future products. He served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for eight months when he founded the company. During that time, he played a central role in the architecture, design, and development of the M40 router.
  • Rami Rahim is Chief Executive Officer of Juniper Networks and a member of the company’s Board of Directors. Rahim was appointed CEO in November 2014. Rahim began his Juniper career in early 1997, as employee No. 32, and worked as an engineer on Juniper’s first breakthrough product, the M40 core router. Rahim has progressed through a series of technical and leadership roles at Juniper, applying his engineering acumen to the design and development of Juniper’s industry-leading product portfolio. He most recently served as Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Juniper Development and Innovation (JDI) organization, overseeing the company’s entire product and technology portfolio. His responsibilities included driving strategy, development and business growth for routing, switching, security, silicon technology, and the Junos operating system. Other leadership positions held over the years include: Executive Vice President and General Manager of Platform Systems Division for routing and switching, Senior Vice President of the Edge and Aggregation Business Unit (EABU), and Vice President and General Manager of EABU.
  • As Chief Customer Officer, Vince Molinaro is responsible for driving the strategic and operational elements of the Sales, Marketing, Partners, Services and Support functions at Juniper Networks. He leads a global organization of more than 3,500 professionals that includes direct and indirect sales, systems engineering, advanced technologies and field operations. Molinaro brings more than 25 years of professional experience in engineering, product management, marketing, sales and operations to his worldwide role. He joined Juniper in 2009 and led the strategy and go-to-market execution for the company’s global service provider business. He was named EVP, Worldwide Sales in 2013 before assuming his current role in February 2014. Prior to joining Juniper, Molinaro held senior leadership positions at a number of technology companies including Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, Alcatel-Lucent and Internap Network Services. He has extensive domestic and international experience having lived and managed large organizations throughout Europe and the U.S. Molinaro holds a bachelor of science degree in biomedical engineering from Boston University and a master of science degree in electrical engineering from University of Bridgeport. He is based out of the Juniper Networks facility in New Jersey, home of OpenLab, The Junos and SDN Center for Innovation.
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