Juniper Acquires Contrail in SDN Play Valued at $176 Million

By Sean Michael Kerner | Dec 12, 2012 | Print this Page
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Make no mistake about it, the Software Defined Networking (SDN) market is red hot. Vendors are racing to either build their own SDN technology or acquire it. In the case of Juniper Networks, the company has decided on the latter.

Juniper today announced its intention to acquire venture backed SDN startup Contrail Systems. The deal is expected by Juniper to close before the end of the year. Juniper is paying a total of approximately $176 million for the SDN startup.

"With this acquisition, Juniper gains SDN technology that augments our portfolio of products and services," Bob Muglia, Executive Vice President of Juniper's Software Solutions division stated. " As a strategic investor earlier this year, we recognized the inherent advantages of Contrail Systems’ architectural approach and we are excited to take this next step to acquire and combine Contrail Systems into our team."

Contrail and Juniper aren't entirely strangers in terms of staffing either. Kireeti Kompell CTO of Contrail was formerly the CTO and Chief Architect for Junos at Juniper. Junos is the core network operating system that underpins all of Juniper's networking gear.

Contrail raised $10 million in funding earlier this year in a Series A funding round led by Kholsa Ventures.

Juniper hasn't been entirely silent in the SDN space though it hasn't been as vocal as other vendors either. During Juniper's third quarter fiscal 2012 earnings call, Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson stated that that a software-driven network platform will ultimately deliver maximum business value for customers.

The data center is where SDN solutions can drive the most business value for customers," Johnson said at the time.

Juniper's SDN approach includes some OpenFlow enabled capabilities as well as the company's Qfabric. Juniper's CEO sees QFabric, which is an approach to reduce network layers as being part of the SDN movement.

Rival networking vendors Cisco and HP have both been aggressive in the SDN space as well. Cisco is pushing forward with its Cisco ONE initiative for network programmability and HP is in the process of building its own SDN controller technology.

The biggest SDN acquisition to date however remains VMware's $1.26 Billion dollar acquisition of Niciraearlier this year.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.