By Snehal Patel
Originally posted on PROSDN
Last week Juniper announced it’s intent to acquire Mist Systems for $405M. Mist brings a lot of innovation to Wireless Networking while its competitors have not kept up with innovation. The full press release can be found at – https://newsroom.juniper.net/press-releases/juniper-networks-announces-intent-acquire-mist-systems-bring-ai-it-delivering
In addition to cloud managed WLAN, Mist has many good features like:
- ML/AI backed cloud back end.
- BLE built into the Access Points for way finding, asset tracking, and location analytics.
- Virtual BLE Beacons.
- Great Analytics.
In my opinion, this is a great move by Juniper, and the acquisition will benefit both the companies for the following reasons:
1. Juniper’s attempt to enter the Enterprise market
Juniper has been trying for a while to strengthen its enterprise networking portfolio. Wireless is an important part of Enterprise networking and a great way to enterprise market. Number of wireless clients in the enterprise network is increasing exponentially. Moreover, the data collected from wireless network can be very valuable for additional AI use cases.
Juniper has good routing and switching products that can be a good fit for enterprise. However, Juniper didn’t have a good wireless solution of its own. Juniper has also tried partnerships with a few wireless vendors. More details about those partnerships can be found at https://www.juniper.net/us/en/partners/technology-alliances/campus-branch. With this acquisition, Juniper has filled a major gap in their product portfolio.
2. Mist key features and value addition to Juniper
Mist brings great analytics for its wireless networks in the form SLEs. More information can be found at https://www.mist.com/documentation/service-level-expectations-sle. The SLEs and ability to quickly pin point to a wireless issue is very valuable.
b. Less Site Surveys
Mist coverage SLE and ML capabilities are helpful in identifying network coverage issues and help in reducing number of site surveys to be done if you have lot of branches.
c. BLE and Virtual Beacons
BLE adoption is increasing in many areas like enterprise retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. IoT adoption is also expected to increase in many of these verticals, making Wireless and BLE, a very important product offering.
d. ML and AI for IT
Mist uses Machine Learning to constantly analyze and baseline the SLE, and sends alerts when there is a deviation. Mist’s AI backed virtual assistant called Marvis can easily help the Network Operators in troubleshooting the problems much quickly. Marvis uses Natural Language processing making it very easy to use. I know that all these features really work, because I have used them myself.
Juniper’s CEO Rami Rahim mentions about AI for IT in his blog:
Wireless is the most strategic place to start as we adopt AI for IT. Companies are already increasingly going wireless first, meaning Wi-Fi is the entry point onto the network for virtually everyone and everything. And whether it’s a person accessing an application or an IoT device communicating with other devices, connectivity is not enough to declare success. User experience is the new uptime and it cannot rely solely on manual intervention.
It’s also more than just wireless. AI-driven operations must extend across the whole IT stack if it is to reach its full potential.
I have always felt that Mist should build a Switch of their own using AI backed software. Now, with the Juniper acquisition, AI capabilities can be extended to the LAN and WAN stack as well. Bringing in more AI capabilities to enterprise networking products can be very valuable. Mist CTO Bob Friday mentions about this in his blog:
The AI for IT movement cannot happen in a vacuum. For enterprises to reap the full benefits of automation, agility and insight, it must happen across the full IT stack. Which brings us back to Juniper.
3. Mist will maintain its autonomy at Juniper
Mist CEO Sujai Hajela mentions in his blog that Mist business and brand will remain intact under Juniper. This ensures that Mist will be able to maintain its focus on growth and innovation while being part of bigger Juniper family. This is similar to what Meraki did during the Cisco acquisition.
Juniper acquiring Mist is a great move for both the companies as well as their customers. It will be really interesting to see how Juniper integrates Mist with other products and takes another shot at enterprise networking. Only time will tell.