Juniper Federal Systems was created as an entity within Juniper Networks to address the specific needs of the federal government. InfoWorld Senior Analyst Wayne Rash spoke with Dubhe Beinhorn, senior vice president at Juniper Federal Systems, about the lessons learned from working with the federal government that can also be applied to other enterprises.
InfoWorld: Why was it necessary to create a separate entity within Juniper Networks to deal with the government?
Beinhorn: There are a number of unique characteristics and requirements about selling to the government. You cannot come into this town and sell to the federal government if you don't understand the politics, the process, the partnerships, everything that's required to be successful in the market. So Juniper decided that we were serious about this space and we went out and dedicated resources that are made up of experts in federal business.
InfoWorld: Juniper is involved in protecting the federal government from outside attackers outside. How do you do this?
Beinhorn: There are a number of attributes resident in Juniper machines that help government users, and any user for that matter, protect from an invasive attack. The encryption capabilities that are within the box that run at almost line rate allow a level of security. But more importantly, the filtering capabilities resident in each machine allows our users to filter at a capacity that is unparalleled in the industry.
InfoWorld: Are the IP routers you supply to the government the same routers that you supply to private industry?
Beinhorn: Yes. They are the M-series of routers as well as the T-series of routers. These are high-performance IP routers, typically found in the core of most service provider networks worldwide. These are high-end, high-performance routers that are being deployed, initially into the core of a lot of these networks, but more recently to the edge of these networks.
InfoWorld: What lessons are you learning from the federal government that can be applied to other enterprises?
Beinhorn: I think the answer to that is one word: Security. Anyone who is building network equipment these days has security as probably their top priority. I think that crosses all networks, be it commercial or federal.
InfoWorld: What are the other issues enterprises should look for when they're looking at network infrastructure?
Beinhorn: There are number of issues. Software and how it's applied across the machine is very important. One of the unique capabilities that Juniper brings to its customers is that one software train runs across all of our machines. This enables upgrades and transitions to new features very, very smoothly, without having to perhaps look across all of the network components to figure out what is upgradeable and what isn't.
The architecture of the machine is also very important; scalability is certainly in the Top Five requirements that you'd see from any customer today, and that is the ability to start at a certain level and a certain bandwidth and a certain speed and move to greater levels. The architecture of our product allows that to be done very easily.
InfoWorld: Juniper plays a role in some very interesting and unusual applications. What kind of things could enterprises look for?
Beinhorn: Networking is all about technology and how we lock down packets and send them hurtling around the planet in the wink of an eye. But the true success of any vendor is what happens when the results of that are known. A mother understanding that her son is okay moments after a terrorist has attacked his platoon in Iraq, or a taxpayer learning that his refund will arrive in time to pay for his daughter's college education, or even to the war fighter who's scaling a palace wall and learns to turn to the right when he hits the ground instead of the left and avoids ground fire as a result. These are real world, human factors that are very much a part of any communications network.
InfoWorld: Aren't these real world examples directly applicable to the real-time information needs of the enterprise outside of government?
Beinhorn: That's very right. When you consider that information is power, it can be used in all kinds of applications and it can be a life-or-death situation. Look at the medical community who has a fiduciary responsibility for transmitting information about patients from doctor to doctor or clinic to clinic and law maintains that that must be protected and encrypted. Look at the financial community — all of our banks need to communicate with one another and they must do so securely. The information flow in this country and every country is critical to (its) economic infrastructure.
InfoWorld: So what you're learning in the federal government is directly applicable to your civilian applications as well?
Beinhorn: There's a lot of parallel between military and civilian application to commercial worlds. If you look back at history, you see that the government has done a good job of leading us on security and encryption standards (and) those encryption standards have been adopted by the commercial sector.