Microsoft veteran to be CEO of Juniper

Juniper CEO Kriens will remain as board chairman

Departing Microsoft Corp. veteran Kevin Johnson was officially named CEO of Juniper Networks Inc. today, effective upon his arrival in September.

Current Juniper CEO and board chairman Scott Kriens will remain active as board chairman, the networking vendor said in a statement.

"We are very excited to welcome Kevin as our new CEO," said Kriens, who has been at Juniper 12 years, since the Sunnyvale, Calif., company was started.

Johnson was at Microsoft for 16 years and most recently was president of the platforms and services division, overseeing 14,000 workers as well as products such as Windows Vista, Windows Live and Web search. His departure was seen as related to Microsoft's failure to buy Yahoo Inc. Johnson issued no comment on that subject.

"I am delighted to join Juniper," Johnson said. "Juniper is a company with a clear technology agenda, great talent and an amazing growth opportunity in a growing industry. I'm looking forward to bringing my experiences to help Juniper scale and deliver great value to Juniper's customers, partners, employees and shareholders."

Pradeep Sindhu, the founder of Juniper in 1996 and its chief technology officer, praised Kriens and said the Juniper team will grow stronger with the addition of Johnson. Sindhu noted that Johnson has a background in engineering but also in managing a large organization and has a "proven ability to lead companies through times of rapid growth."

Juniper said Johnson had overseen record-breaking revenues of $20 billion in fiscal year 2008 at Microsoft and had worked globally with customer groups of all sizes. Juniper's comment on the unit's revenues came in stark contrast to reports that Microsoft's online services business lost $1.23 billion in operating income in fiscal 2008.

Johnson, 47, previously was the group vice president of Microsoft worldwide sales, marketing and services. Before coming to Microsoft, he worked in IBM's systems integration and consulting business after starting his career as a software developer. He has a bachelor's degree in business from New Mexico State University.

Juniper calls itself the leader in high-performance networking products and has a reputation as a routing technology innovator, analysts noted. With more than 4,800 employees and $2.8 billion in revenues for the fiscal year that ended last December, it is nonetheless considered a second-tier networking vendor behind companies such as Cisco Systems Inc., Nortel Networks and Siemens, which have a greater array of networking products and services to sell, analysts said. Market leader Cisco finished last year with nearly $35 billion in sales and about 70% of the total switching market globally.

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at Yankee Group Research Inc. in Boston, said Kriens has done a great job as CEO, but in order for the company to grow, it will need to merge and acquire other companies. "Kevin Johnson's experience at Microsoft will be a nice fit to take Juniper to the next level," Kerravala said.

While Juniper doesn't need to be a $30 billion-plus company to be profitable or important to many customers, it faces many market obstacles that have led to the demise of some smaller networking vendors, Kerravala said. He noted, however, that Juniper has earned its reputation for building great routers and that it also has high-quality security products as a result of its acquisition of NetScreen Technologies Inc.

"It's not fair to say Juniper is a one-trick pony, but they are really not more than a two-trick pony" at this point, Kerravala said.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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