Juniper's 128 acquisition needed to improve SD-WAN

Juniper Networks plans to 'enhance' its Contrail SD-WAN through the acquisition of 128 Technology. 128 has a more advanced SD-WAN that competes with Cisco and VMware products.

Juniper Networks plans to acquire 128 Technology and enhance its less advanced SD-WAN with 128's low latency, highly secured product that competes with Cisco and VMware technology.

This week, Juniper announced that it would acquire 128 for $450 million. Juniper expects to complete the transaction by the end of the year.

The deal is an "excellent acquisition" because it could significantly bolster Juniper's Contrail SD-WAN, said Shamus McGillicuddy, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates.

"Juniper's brand was weak in SD-WAN, and its technology was not as advanced as some other SD-WAN vendors," he said.

Rami RahimRami Rahim

However, Juniper does not plan to replace its Contrail SD-WAN with 128's product. Instead, the latter would "augment" the former, Juniper CEO Rami Rahim told financial analysts during a conference call with 128.

"It will augment, it will enhance, it will accelerate our solution," he said.

Nevertheless, 128 would improve Juniper's offering significantly by adding unique advanced technology, analysts said. SD-WAN vendors typically use a suite of IPsec protocols to create an encrypted tunnel for traffic flowing across the WAN. While highly secure, the mechanism requires a significant amount of bandwidth and can cause latency problems.

128 bypasses the difficulties with IPsec by taking a session-based approach to SD-WAN routing that includes a firewall, encryption, bandwidth and microsegmentation policies. "I don't know of any vendor who does that," said Steve Garson, president of consulting firm SD-WAN Experts.

"It's a very cool technology because you can't connect to their network if you're not authorized," Garson said. "In theory, hackers trying to crack a network would have a hell of a lot more trouble."

The speed and security of the company's technology have attracted customers in the armed forces, which have bought the SD-WAN on Juniper hardware, said 128 CEO Andy Ory. 128 also sells its software on white box hardware from Lanner.

128 partners with Microsoft on government deals, providing connectivity to the latter's Azure cloud and 365 office productivity suite, executives said. 128's main competitors are Cisco and VMware, which sell the Viptela and VeloCloud SD-WANs, respectively.

Juniper believes it can differentiate 128's technology further through integration with the cloud-based Mist networks analytics platform. Juniper acquired wireless LAN vendor Mist in 2019 and integrated its AI-powered analytics into the Juniper SD-WAN this year.

128 did not have analytics on par with Mist. Ory said the combination of the two would work together as well as "chocolate and peanut butter." Also, 128 expects to benefit from Juniper's larger sales force.

128, which has raised $120 million from investors, has 120 employees and 300 customers, including enterprises and service providers. 128's executive and development teams will join Juniper.

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