Juniper Networks announced yesterday that Bob Muglia, who spent 23 years at Microsoft and was president of that company’s Server and Tools Business (STB) until January, will be joining the networking vendor to oversee its end-to-end software strategy and lead its just-created Software Solutions Division.
Back at Microsoft, Muglia and CEO Steve Ballmer appeared to hold diverging views on strategy for the STB. Those views apparently were not reconciled, so Ballmer ousted Muglia and sought “new leadership” — but only for the STB, not for the company as a whole.
Until he left Microsoft, Muglia’s group was responsible for a remit that encompassed infrastructure software, developer tools, and cloud-computing platforms, including products such as Windows Server, SQL Server, Visual Studio, System Center, and the Windows Azure Platform. It was a big mandate, and Muglia will have a similarly ambitious charge at Juniper. As Jim Duffy notes at NetworkWorld:
“Juniper is centralizing its software business to further position it as a company differentiator and growth engine. Included in it will be software for Juniper’s SRX Series and vGW Series security platforms, MobileNext packet core offering for mobile operators, Junos Pulse mobile security suite for managing devices, and the Junos Space platform for developing and deploying network applications.”
Muglia, quoted below, seems eager for the challenge:
“The emergence of cloud, heterogeneous devices connecting, and applications (executing) in a much more automated state creates an opportunity to bring software into the network and connect to all devices. Networks are configured and managed by manual processes, people with mice and keyboards, and separate from the application infrastructure. There is no way to deal with the scale of the amount of configuration changes in the network to ensure the reliability and consistency of the environment. Networks will be applications driven; applications are at the center of intelligence and business value. The infrastructure as a whole is being driven by the applications. Juniper is very well positioned to take this on with QFabric for cloud, and a single operating system platform. There’s not a lot of legacy mess to clean up.”
Raising the Software Quotient
Except for the last sentence, where Muglia offers an enthusiastic plug for QFabric, those words could have come from an executive at F5 Networks, or from those at other networking vendors trying to adjust to an application-centric data-center overhaul that already has virtualized and transmogrified the server and storage spheres, and is beginning to do likewise to the realm of network infrastructure.
From what I have seen, Juniper needed a further infusion of software bloodlines. Muglia could be an excellent addition to the leadership team, able to bring a heightened software sensibility to what remains a hardware-centric corporate culture. In some ways, though they are radically different companies in many respects, Juniper and Dell are both struggling to get away from a hardware-oriented culture. Yes, there’s a lot of software that goes Juniper networking equipment, but some within the company still are struggling, quite literally, to think “outside the box.”
The effort is there, though, and the spirit is willing, which is why I think Muglia was brought aboard. There’s tremendous potential in the entire Junos-based strategy and its software portfolio, including Pulse for mobile security and device management and the Space platform.
That’s why I see the Muglia move as a potentially significant and positive development for Juniper.
New Place, Familiar Faces
Muglia shouldn’t take long to acclimate to his new corporate home. As Mary Jo Foley wrote, it is well populated with former Microsoft executives. Heading that list is Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson, but he’s joined by a number of others, including Gerri Elliott, chief sales Officer; Brad Brooks, VP of worldwide enterprise marketing; Eddie Amos, VP of developer marketing; and Lauren Cooney, director of developer evangelism.
Reporting directly to Johnson and starting at Juniper after he leaves Microsoft in September, Muglia should have immediate rapport with his new boss.