"The last 10 years have been exactly what we had hoped for," said Scott Kriens chairman and CEO of Juniper Networks. Kriens, who joined the company at its inception in 1996, talks about Juniper's success with Computerworld at Interop Las Vegas 2006. Kriens also weighed in on the need to move away from "proprietary tech," what enterprises need from their networks and where Juniper goes from here. Excerpts from the interview follow:
What is the main message you want the Interop audience to take home from your upcoming keynote?
That we should take control of our future, because no one can confidently tell us what that will be -- and the only way to do it is through open systems. We're long overdue to open the network. Proprietary tech is an impediment to that. One of the main reasons Juniper came into existence and prospered is our ability to adapt our systems to be interoperable with unpublished standards. By that, I mean practices that are broader than any one vendor. We would adapt technologies to interoperate with an environment we inherited. As a result, in 10 years we've grown to a US$2 billion company by adapting to what I call tribal knowledge about technology and conditions. We are now number one or two in network infrastructure and security and application performance.
You've been seen by many analysts as strong with sales to service providers, but what about business customers?
We have all 25 of [the] top 25 service providers, but also 10,000 enterprise customers, and that includes 47 of top Fortune 50, which are quite sizeable businesses.
What are large businesses telling you they need from you and your competitors?
What enterprises need are networks that support their business processes, as opposed to networks built for their own sake. A couple of transitions are under way in the enterprise. One is taking the local campus to the global campus, and in that process is a transition from physical networks to virtual networks. A global campus is different from physical campuses that run on unintelligent proprietary technology. CIOs are wrestling with how to get from here in the desert to there under the palm tree in the oasis. We've got to start building around business processes and around this popular term, the agile enterprise. So the CIO is saying, 'I need seamless business processes.'
What are your top selling products, since you have a reputation for security and for involvement in the emerging so-called application networking market?
The top two are in the network security portfolio, and we have many products for security that work across different purposes. Backbone networks and routing in the wide area network are 30 percent of our business. So we serve the backbone, which is defined as the wide area, as it reaches down and connects into data center. We also have the application performance category, and all this is going to be increasingly integrated. It will be integrated into what we call the network operating system, a software complex which will receive and process and deliver all the traffic. Connected will be user devices, servers, switches and fiber optics and all the source and destination mapping, directories, all prioritization and application awareness. All that intelligence and more will be housed within software.
It will critical for the network operating system to be open.... It has to be presented to all existing infrastructure. There can't be the mysterious discovery process we went on 10 years ago. And then the network operating system has got to be open to consumer electronic devices as much as to enterprise devices and systems. The two worlds have to be completely open to each other. Juniper is the largest company in the industry built from day one to deliver network infrastructure for this global all-IP multiservice virtual world.
In terms of your future growth, how dependent will Juniper be on acquiring other small companies, which is a key ingredient of the success at Cisco Systems, for example? You've acquired Funk, Peribit, Netscreen, and Redline, for example, but will that continue?
Some view acquisitions as a strategy and we view acquisitions as a tactic. I'm amused by someone who says they have a plan to buy 10 companies. It's like going to the mall and saying I'll buy 10 items.
We're going to concentrate on the network operating system as our strategy. We intend to expand on that. For us, there is the agile enterprise and the service provider. We'll still run the largest networks in the world, but we're now seeing two markets of service provider and enterprise come together. Reliability and high performance of the network are important to carriers but every bit as important to the Merrill Lynches of the world.
What jazzes you about your job personally?
Mostly the excitement of ... watching the strategy we've had materialize. The last 10 years have been exactly what we had hoped for. The next 10 years should show progress on the same strategic objective of being a major supplier for these technologies, something that can only to be done by one or two companies. We see that in these markets there will be one major provider and one other and then several incidental suppliers. We are laser-focused on infrastructure, but not optical technologies, not building a services business, not applications, not making movies or phones. We're going to be in infrastructure. We're a $2 billion company in a $20 billion market today.
So, I really like it when things come together. That success has a lot to do with luck, and then never forgetting that and then capitalizing on that. At Juniper, we've done both of those. We are working in the right time with the right demand and for the right problems that we solve.