HPE-Juniper picks a fight in 5G and O-RAN

"We are changing the network industry and creating a new player. It's like I say when I play soccer. My goal is to win, and if we can't win then we pick a fight."

HPE’s and Juniper Networks’ CEOs said on a media and analyst call that their merger would give the combined company the ability to “put together a comprehensive 5G and O-RAN solution for our customers.”

Antonio Neri, HPE CEO and President, said that the Juniper is already capturing core, edge and metro transport business in the Communciation Service Provider (CSP) space.

Today, one challenge is the ability to piece those elements together into a seamless, fully integrated solution, and post-close we will have a much better opportunity to capture that in the market

It has also been working to design AI-led automation in its core business areas, as well as in new areas such as RAN automation, via its RAN Intelligent Controller (RIC) developement. Neri said that the deal provides the opportunity to combine that with HPE’s Athonet core network business, as well as its distributed compute and cloud capabilities.

“That gives us way more of the building blocks necessary to put together comprehensive 5G and O-RAN solutions for our customers,” Neri said. “Today, one challenge is the ability to piece those elements together into a seamless, fully integrated solution, and post-close we will have a much better opportunity to capture that in the market.”

“Also, the virtualisation of the RAN is something that our compute business has been working on, and we have an amazing solution – and now Rami will have access to more than he has at the moment, an amazing opportunity to reignite and grow the CSP business with more assets than ever before.”

The ability to build comprehensive datacentre solutions with complete automation and AI capabilities, to complement our WAN leadership with distributed cloud and compute to roll in software for 5G and O-RAN just makes us more relevant to service providers.”

Juniper CEO Rami Rahim, who will lead a combined networking business unit within the newco if the deal goes ahead said, “While the combination obviously brings benefits to enterprise, it’s important to understand that the benefits extend equally to cloud and CSP customers.”

He outlined a capability to combine Junipers WAN and routing capabilities, along with its automated operations, with HPE’s cloud and compute architecture, to make it easier for telcos to manage the process of building and operating software-based networks.

“Everybody is building datacentres. The ability to build comprehensive datacentre solutions with complete automation and AI capabilities, to complement our WAN leadership with distributed cloud and compute to roll in software for 5G and O-RAN just makes us more relevant to service providers.”

Telcos have spent years developing paths to define a network that is disaggregated, open and software-defined. That has meant many goes at trying to define cloud-native operations of network functions within an automation architecture. Integrating that architecture, vertically in the technology stack from hardware to cloud to application, as well as horizontally across network domains, has been a key headache.

Combined portfolios like an HPE-Juniper could provide that combined platform integration capability – as long as it can also play in the open, disaggregated architecture that telcos say they are aiming for.

“It will change dramatically who we are and change our relevancy. We are changing the network industry and creating a new player. It’s like I say when I play soccer. My goal is to win, and if we can’t win then we pick a fight.”

Neri said that he thinks the combined business would have at its core a network fabric “by which we deliver hybrid cloud, AI-native services, all to the same platform – Greenlake – a true to edge to cloud. So instead of our core business being mostly compute, now the core business inside greenlake is networking, and that gives us a much more significant control plane and a better experience for our customers – because the most difficult part of teh architecture is the network.

“It will change dramatically who we are and change our relevancy. We are changing the network industry and creating a new player. It’s like I say when I play soccer. My goal is to win, and if we can’t win ten we pick a fight.”

Rahim himself identified AI as providing the key driver for the new company,

“AI is the biggest inlfection since the internet. The deal will bring the depth and breadth of portfolio needed to capture the full market opportunity that AI presents in front of us, to solve compelling AI needs in the market.”