CEO Antonio Neri: HPE-Juniper Networks Aims To Disrupt ‘Status Quo’ With ‘Modern AI-Driven Networking Fabric’

Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Antonio Neri says his company’s proposed $14 billion acquisition of Juniper Networks is aimed at disrupting the networking “status quo” with a new modern AI-driven networking fabric.

“We are pursuing this acquisition because we believe the combination of HPE and Juniper Networks will radically change the networking industry – not by eliminating products from either portfolio – but by creating greater choice in this sector,” said Neri in a blog post thataddresses the potential competitive impact of the deal. “The incredible thing about a combination like this one is that there are strong offerings on both sides and by bringing them together, we will be accelerating value and flexibility for all of our customers.”

Without directly singling out rival Cisco, which has maintained a dominant position in the networking industry since the mid-90s, Neri said the deal takes aim at the current networking status quo.

“Our objective is to better address customer challenges by integrating two of the most innovative and competitive organizations in the networking industry and disrupt the status quo,” said Neri (pictured above). “Our combined business will create a new full-service networking company, with a customer-centric approach to product development and a comprehensive portfolio that delivers value for our customers.”

Neri’s missive comes just one day after Cisco announced a partnership with AI GPU powerhouse Nvidia to “help” enterprises “quickly and easily deploy and manage AI infrastructure” with “purpose-built Ethernet networking-based solutions” sold through Cisco’s partner network.ADVERTISEMENT

Neri, for his part, said the Juniper Networks deal accelerates the ability for HPE to capture the “immense” AI opportunity.

“The proposed acquisition of Juniper Networks accelerates our opportunity to capture the immense opportunity AI presents to us by delivering a modern AI-driven networking fabric to train and deploy AI applications, while pivoting our HPE portfolio mix to higher growth and higher gross margin areas of the market,” said Neri. “Juniper Networks complements our amazing HPE Aruba Networking portfolio in Campus and Branch and turbo charges the opportunity to accelerate growth in the AI, Data Center, Service Provider and Cloud segments.”

The deal comes with Cisco holding a 47.2 percent share in Ethernet switch revenue market share in the second quarter of 2023, according to IDC, compared to 7.1 percent for HPE and 2.9 percent for Juniper.

Cisco’s combined service provider and enterprise router revenue share for the second quarter of 2023, meanwhile, was 35.9 percent compared to 10.3 percent routing revenue share for Juniper, according to IDC.

Patrick Shelley, CTO at PKA Technologies, Montvale, N.J., No. 441 on the 2023 CRN Solution Provider 500, said the HPE acquisition of Juniper Networks sets up an epic networking battle with Cisco.

“This is Antonio saying, ‘We’re coming for you Cisco,’” said Shelley. “It’s going to be interesting to see how HPE integrates the portfolio to best take advantage of Juniper’s AI capabilities. This is the first time in decades that a competitor will be able to aggressively challenge Cisco in the networking market as a result of the AI opportunity.”

Shelley said the AI market shift represents a “perfect storm” of sorts for HPE to challenge Cisco. “The old days of you never get fired for buying Cisco is no longer the case with AI transforming the networking market,” he said. “Customers are more willing to look at what is the best technology rather than buying the established brand which is Cisco. HPE-Juniper have a great opportunity to change the networking game with new innovative AI networking solutions.”

While it is too early for any decisions regarding future HPE Juniper Networks product road maps, Neri pledged that all HPE portfolio decisions will continue to be made “thoughtfully and carefully.”

What’s more, he said, “all of the products HPE currently offers for sale, including hardware, services, and solutions delivered via HPE Aruba Networking Central, remain available for purchase and all of our standard end-of-life policies remain in effect.”

Neri also pledged that HPE will move through the blockbuster deal — which is scheduled to close in late 2024 or early 2025 — with “minimal disruption” to customers and partners.

“HPE has a proven track record of seamlessly integrating new products into our portfolio,” said Neri. “With the acquisition of Juniper Networks, we intend to continue this approach, ensuring that our customers and partners receive uninterrupted service while benefiting from an expanded set of offerings.”

Neri said HPE will maintain all of its ongoing interactions with customers and partners as it awaits regulatory approvals for the deal including partner advisory board meetings and the HPE Aruba Atmosphere Edge program at HPE Discover.

Ultimately, Neri said the combined HPE Juniper Networks will be able to drive more innovation faster. “That is a good thing: for us, for our customers and partners, and for the entire industry,” he said.

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