Juniper Networks' unit will take on Cisco for federal customers

Juniper Networks Inc. of Sunnyvale, Calif., has announced formation of a federal systems unit to challenge Cisco Systems Inc. in the government market.

'Cisco has been the only game in town if you want to buy routers,' said Dubhe Beinhorn, vice president of Juniper Federal Systems, which will have its headquarters in Herndon, Va. 'It's time the government had a choice.'

Cisco of San Jose, Calif., has dominated the network routing market, but since 1996 Juniper claims to have secured 30 percent of the commercial market. The company has been selling to government agencies for the past three years. The new unit will help raise the company's profile in the federal market, said Bob Stevens, director of federal operations.

'The government wants to see a commitment to the federal space,' Stevens said. 'One of the ways of doing that is to have a dedicated unit.'

'The characteristics and language of the government market are unique,' Beinhorn said. 'If you don't know it, you are not a contender.'

Juniper sells itself as a high-end routing provider, for network cores and for edges of high-performance networks. Packets are processed by Application Specific Integrated Circuits. The company claims ASIC processing provides better performance, enabling higher speeds, packet filtering at near-line rates and faster encryption.

Juniper is bidding for the equipment portion of the Defense Department's Global Information Grid-Bandwidth Expansion Program. Beinhorn said a GIG-BE contract would be a major win for the company, establishing it as a viable Cisco competitor.

'We'll never replace them,' Beinhorn said. 'That's not the agenda.' But a position on the global high-performance DOD network would help open the door to other projects, she said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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