Juniper gets into content delivery solutions

For years Juniper Networks Inc. has concentrated on carrier and enterprise-class data switches and routers. Now, as more Internet users fire rich media across the Internet, it’s moving into content delivery management.

The company is buying Ankeena Networks of Santa Clara, Calif., which makes a software-based content delivery appliance called Media Flow Director.

“This is an area Juniper’s going to continue investing in,” said Mike Marcellin, the company’s vice-president of product marketing.

“It addresses the significant growth in video traffic being seen by most of our customers.”

Founded in 2008 under a slightly different name, Ankeena’s original goal was to make a software platform for delivering media. However, according to Anshu Agarwal, Ankeena’s vice-president of marketing, Media Flow Director can now be used for delivering all content on a highly-scalable system.

Although it runs on x86 servers, it comes packaged with a CentOS-based Linux operating system so can be installed either on a new or existing server.

The company says its multi-tier caching means it needs fewer servers similar platforms from competitors, which include Cisco Systems Inc. It can also deliver content to desktops, laptops and handheld devices simultaneously because it supports all third party streaming protocols. In addition, it has its own streaming technology for Adobe Flash.

Media Flow Director can be deployed at various points in a media delivery network, including at the edge as a proxy cache or at origin as a parent server.

Zeus Kerravala, senior vice-president of enterprise research at Yankee Group, said the deal fits with Juniper’s new network strategy to be more than a network hardware supplier.

“It plugs a hole in their portfolio,” he said in an interview.

However, he noted that it adds another operating system to Juniper’s lineup at a time when it is trying to make most of its products run on the company’s home-grown Junos operating system.

In addition, most buyers of Juniper equipment don’t see it as a content and media company, he said, so it will have to do a lot of talking to the industry.

Juniper’s history of successfully absorbing aquistions is “checkered,” Kerravala added.

Details of the deal, which will see Ankeena become part of Juniper’s Junos Ready Software business group, weren’t released. Juniper did say that the financial impact of the transaction would be less than US$100 million.

Ankeena says Media Flow Director can deal up to 40,000 sessions per server with up to 10 Gbps throughput per server.

Agarwal said Ankeena doesn’t have any Canadian customers yet.

Juniper has had its eye on Ankeena for a while. In February it began selling a 1U server bundled with Media Flow Director called the Juniper Media Flow for customers that want an all-in-one solution. That device, which Juniper will continue to make, has room for eight hard drives totaling 8 TB of storage.

Marcellin said customer response was so strong to this offering it lead Juniper to buy its partner.

Although the technology is important, he paid tribute to the skill of the Ankeena staff, which Juniper hopes will remain. The staff “gives us a real springboard into our continued investments around solving the economic challenges our service providers have around traffic, and giving them a better opportunity to monetize video.”

Ankeena’s senior management has agreed to join Juniper. Ankeena CEO Rajan Raghavan will become vice-president and GM of Juniper’s new content and media business unit.


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