Juniper acquires zero-trust security startup WiteSand

Juniper has acquired zero-trust security company WiteSand. The startup's cloud-native technology could find a home in Juniper's Mist and SASE platforms.

Juniper Networks has acquired WiteSand, the cloud-based zero-trust security startup that emerged from stealth mode in June. Juniper plans to incorporate WiteSand's access control technology into the cloud-based Mist network management platform for campus and branch offices.

Juniper announced the acquisition Monday, saying WiteSand's zero-trust network access controls would become a "key element" in the AI-driven Mist portfolio. The zero-trust concept has gained popularity among enterprises securing SaaS and public cloud traffic.

With zero trust, WiteSand offers traffic monitoring, flow analytics, asset discovery, and wired and wireless provisioning. Juniper acquired the company mainly because of WiteSand's cloud-native approach to network access control (NAC), making it easier to integrate into the Mist portfolio. Traditional NAC approaches from competitors like Portnox tend to rely on on-premises hardware and monolithic codebases, and are expensive to scale up.

Adding WiteSand to the Mist platform would make it easier for customers to onboard devices, apply access policy rules, and manage devices' ability to predict, prevent and respond to cyber threats, said Zeus Kerravala, founder of ZK Research. Also, Juniper could use network access control (NAC) data drawn from WiteSand to improve security management in Mist and add automation to the platform.

"WiteSand is a good technology by itself, but if you can automate policy enforcement with Mist [then] you've got a [NAC] solution that's actually scalable," Kerravala said.

WiteSand could help Juniper graduate from a provider of enterprise networking technology within a multi-vendor environment to a seller of a complete architecture, Kerravala said. Companies like Cisco offer the latter as integrated suites of security and networking products.

Juniper started its progression to a complete enterprise network provider with the $405 million Mist acquisition in 2019. A year later, Juniper acquired software-defined WAN vendor 128 Technology and network management vendor Apstra. The latter focused on management software for data centers with networking gear from multiple vendors.

Another option for Juniper could be to integrate WiteSand's zero trust capabilities into its Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) portfolio. Juniper recently started building out its SASE services with the release of a firewall-as-a-service product, Secure Edge, earlier this month. Secure Edge was the first addition to the Juniper Security Director Cloud since the SASE management platform was launched in May.

Juniper's SASE service does not include the ability to apply zero trust to microsegmentation, a technique for dividing a network into logical and secure units. The method consists of applying policies that control access to data and applications. Juniper offers microsegmentation in its data center and public cloud security offerings.

Praveen Jain, a former Cisco executive, founded WiteSand. The company was the latest of several companies started by Jain. Others included Andiamo Systems, Nuova Systems and Insieme Networks, all acquired by Cisco, and Pensando, which focused on distributed computing for the edge.

Madelaine Millar is a news writer covering network technology at TechTarget. She has previously written about science and technology for MIT's Lincoln Laboratory and the Khoury College of Computer Science, as well as covering community news for Boston Globe Media.

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