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Juniper's Stratus: Wait 'Til Next Year

Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) continues to drop little hints about Stratus, but officials are adamant that the super-cool data-center fabric isn't due for an official launch until 2011.

Oh, it's possible Stratus could be revealed this year, but Juniper says it won't launch until it's generally available, with a customer secured. "It was never intended to be a 2010 product," Mike Banic, vice president of product marketing for Ethernet platforms, tells Light Reading.

Whether intentionally or not, Juniper has built up some big expectations regarding Stratus's awesomeness. Assuming a Jan. 1, 2011 launch (a bad assumption), it will have been 23 months since Juniper's first mention of the fabric, at a February 2009 event. (See Juniper Strikes at the Data Center.)

In the meantime, every data center announcement Juniper makes -- such as yesterday's basket of switches, software, and partnerships -- is going to be just a little disappointing. (See Juniper Gets 'New' With Data Centers.)

"While the announcements continue to show Juniper is working hard to evolve its portfolio, we're really waiting for Project Stratus -- Juniper's real opportunity to materially differentiate itself in the data center," writes analyst Ittai Kidron of Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. , in a note published last night.

"The three product platforms announced [Monday] are underwhelming as far as the 'webcast-worthy' test is concerned," analyst Michael Genovese of Soleil Securities Group Inc. wrote in a note yesterday.

Stratus is a combination of products Juniper is developing with IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM). The plan is to collapse the three-tiered data-center architecture (access, aggregation, and core) into one layer, by networking to view the entire data center as a single switch.

For now, Juniper claims it can merge the aggregation and core layers, creating a two-tiered data center, by using the virtual chassis capabilities of its EX line -- that is, by linking switches together into a multichassis box. This capability can be used to pool hundreds of servers together; Banic says Stratus will bring that number into the thousands.

The hands-on work on Stratus has started, as Juniper indicated in February. (See Juniper's Ready for Stratus.) Banic stresses that this only means the ASICs for Stratus are ready, and that Juniper is just beginning to put software on them.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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