Router vendor, Juniper Networks, is to acquire firewall specialist, NetScreen Technologies, in a deal worth about $US4 billion.
By adding NetScreen’s network security products to its portfolio of high-end networking products, Juniper hopes to muscle in on the enterprise network business.
This could see them emerge as a future competitor for Cisco Systems.
“This is going to be a wake-up call to Cisco,” research director for network security at Gartner, Richard Stiennon, said. “They’re going to have to look at the fact that they don’t have an industry leading firewall and [Juniper] now does.”
However, analysts said that it would not change the market in the near future.
“Juniper doesn’t make routers for enterprises and hasn’t had a way to sell to those customers if they did,” an analyst at Communications Network Architects, Frank Dzubeck, said.
Juniper’s market share in that segment is minimal by design, while Cisco holds more than 90 per cent.
The NetScreen acquisition was an attempt to change that, Dzubeck said.
“This is Juniper’s way to get into the enterprise,” he said.
“It can take advantage of NetScreen’s sales channels and save itself the time and expense of building up its own organisation for that job.”
Over time, it could also boost the capabilities of its routers for service providers by adapting NetScreen’s security technology.
“With it, service providers might be able to filter out viruses from email and stop denial of service [DOS] attacks,” Dzubeck said.
“Putting those services in the carrier network rather than at the enterprise would be a good idea.”
He cited the recent Mydoom virus-activated DOS attack that hit the SCO Group’s website.
“Why couldn’t that have been filtered out before they got bombarded?” he asked.
“There are an awful lot of things that can be done if the edge of the network and the core of the network turn out to be incredibly intelligent.”
The vision of more built-in security is shared by Cisco, according to an analyst from The Yankee Group, Zeus Kerravala.
“If it tries to take on Cisco in the enterprise, Juniper will face an uphill battle,” he said.
“Battling Cisco, with roughly the same strategy as Cisco, in a market where Cisco has about 90 per cent of the share, is going to be difficult.”
NetScreen’s current channel partners and resellers include Alstom IT, Citadel Security, Lan Systems and NetStar Australia.
This is not expected to change following the acquisition.
“A number of our channel partners carry both NetScreen and Juniper solutions,” NetScreen’s senior director of marketing for the Asia-Pacific region, Paul Serrano, said.