HPE partners have given its $14bn lunge for Juniper Networks a cautious thumbs up, with one saying the union will “create a formidable contender for Cisco”.
HPE last night confirmed rumours that it has reached definitive agreement to acquire Juniper in a move that will double the size of its networking business.
While not mentioning market goliath Cisco by name, HPE Antonio Neri claimed the acquisition “will change the dynamics in the networking market and provide customers and partners with a new alternative”.
HPE partners IT Channel Oxygen collared gave the deal a broadly positive reaction, although some highlighted the challenge HPE may have when managing product overlaps – and some were more effusive than others.
Yolanta Gill, CEO of HPE Aruba partner European Electronique, said the combination of HPE Aruba and Juniper will “position them as a formidable contender against Cisco”.
“While some product sets may overlap, the integration of these two sets is poised to greatly enhance their market reach,” she told IT Channel Oxygen.
“HPE Aruba’s product range, especially ClearPass and Central, are market-leading and this is further fortified by their association with AMD and the innovative Pensando-powered switch. Juniper Networks on the other hand is renowned for its strength in high-performance carrier and ISP switching and routing.”
‘Fair amount of overlap to make sense of’
Collin Williams, Networking and Security CTO at Computacenter UK, agreed that “there is a fair amount of overlap to make sense of”.
“But HPE proved with Aruba they can acquire an organisation and rationalise and retain the right elements,” he added in comments for IT Channel Oxygen.
“The acquisition was a surprise but makes sense to HPE because the price is attractive and there are many useful assets in the Juniper portfolio such as Apsta, Mist, from a software standpoint and a well-formed enterprise grade switch platform with a carrier grade heritage.”
‘Very positive for HPE partners’
James Hardy, Group Chief Commercial Officer at CCS Media, characterised it as a “good addition to the HPE portfolio”.
“The AI and security element of Juniper’s enterprise networking portfolio complements what HPE already has with Aruba and the strength of the Aruba Central platform. It’s a very positive move for HPE and HPE’s partners.”
Hardy said his priority was to see a clear roadmap from the duo.
“We just need to understand when the integration will take place and how we would gain the synergies of the new portfolio and commercial model,” he said.
‘HPE had money to burn’
Howard Hall, Group Managing Director at HPE and HP-dedicated partner DTP, branded it a “sensible purchase”, but admitted it “won’t make much difference to our business”.
“It’s good for us – whether it’s great for us is another question,” he told IT Channel Oxygen.
“If you think about HPE’s edge-to-cloud services strategy and the big push they have to look after clients from their traditional workloads to their hybrid workloads, it fits really well with that.
“HPE have got money burning a hole in their pocket, so it makes sense to give money back to shareholders, but in a different way. There are lots of people HPE would love to acquire but they can’t afford – they could afford Juniper.”
Hall concluded: “We’re not a Cisco partner, so it can only be a good thing for us.”
‘Adding Juniper builds on GreenLake’
Dino Cooper, CEO of Viadex, also said the deal would help HPE challenge CIsco.
“Cisco dominate networking and have built a significant server/unified compute and networking platform,” he said.
“For HPE to challenge and have a bigger impact this makes sense, likewise for Juniper to enhance its capabilities and add HPE technologies to their space is about surviving and thriving at scale rather than devolving to being a niche networking player.”
“It enables both to bring unified integrated offerings to market, crucially unification enables AI solutions across the stack end to end, and that’s what drives powerful insights and business outcomes. Certainly for GreenLake to evolve into a complete end-to-end consumption-based offering adding Juniper builds on what they have.”
‘The real question in my mind’
In a LinkedIn post (see below), Alex Smith, Vice President of Channels at analyst Canalys, said the move will see HPE gain a “strong” switching and firewall portfolio in the enterprise space.
“The real question in my mind with this acquisition is the SP [service provider] routing space, and frankly, the whole SP and Cloud customer segment which is core to Juniper,” he wrote.
“Very different selling motion from enterprise and SMB, and a sector that HPE has shown a reluctance to tackle. In telco it will compete with Cisco, but also very SP-focused vendors in Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia, ZTE Corporation.”
HPE said the all-cash transaction is expected to close “in late calendar year 2024 or early calendar year 2025”, subject to the usual approvals.
“This transaction will strengthen HPE’s position at the nexus of accelerating macro-AI trends, expand our total addressable market, and drive further innovation for customers as we help bridge the AI-native and cloud-native worlds, while also generating significant value for shareholders,” Neri concluded.