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Cisco Spending Millions of Dollars Secretly Purchasing New Juniper Products

timothy posted about 6 months ago | from the just-making-sure-they're-not-stealing-our-ideas dept.

Businesses 120

FrankPoole (1736680) writes According to a CRN investigative report, Cisco has been spending millions of dollars over several years to secretly purchase Juniper Networks' products, including new QFabric and MX series routers, for use in its 'competitive analysis lab,' where the products are tested and reverse engineered. According to the report, some of the Juniper products purchased by Cisco were still in beta and not yet commercially released. In addition, CRN discovered that a main source for Cisco to obtain these Juniper products was, ironically, a company called Torrey Point Group, a fast-growing VAR that was awarded Juniper's Part of the Year in 2011.

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New Jersey frosty (-1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 6 months ago | (#47223127)

Anyone else read that as new jumper products? I could do with a new cardigan myself...

Re:New Jersey frosty (0)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about 6 months ago | (#47223375)

Nope.

Re:New Jersey frosty (3)

IntrepidDreams (3691017) | about 6 months ago | (#47223379)

I actually read it as "Crisco Spending Millions of Dollars Secretly Purchasing New Juniper Products" and was confused as to why a food oil brand was expanding into products using the coniferous plant Juniper.

Re:New Jersey frosty (2)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 6 months ago | (#47223467)

Gin infused pies, of course.

Re:New Jersey frosty (1)

FlopEJoe (784551) | about 6 months ago | (#47223571)

I saw it as "Jupiter" products and thought it was a rant on Buy (earth) American products first.

And.. (4, Insightful)

oldhack (1037484) | about 6 months ago | (#47223147)

Dogs lick their balls. What's new?

Re:And.. (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 6 months ago | (#47223797)

Pretty much - I remember waaaay back to 2000-2001 when some contractor shared photos online of Microsoft buying Apple G5 PowerMac desktops by the pallet-load. [slashdot.org]

('course Microsoft showed no class at all in their response by firing the guy, but...)

I figure Juniper will likely rethink their VAR relationship with Cisco's front company, though.

Re:And.. (4, Insightful)

sabri (584428) | about 6 months ago | (#47224315)

I figure Juniper will likely rethink their VAR relationship with Cisco's front company, though.

Why? Juniper knows this might to happen. So why not make sure that Cisco pays top price rather than getting it from Ebay?

QFX has been with customers for a long time now so I don't see a problem with that either. If a VAR can resell it to Cisco, it has been with early adopter customers for a while

And what I don't understand is the part about reverse engineering. Yes, that may take place. But there is a very good other reason why every large vendor of routing equipment has competitive products in their engineering lab: interoperability. I have worked for two large vendors and have been in the labs of a few others and I have seen many interoperability labs. In fact, at one point in my career I was assigned to literally drag some equipment across the street to our direct competitor, install it in their lab and help them get some interoperability working (this was obviously to satisfy some issues we had with a large mutual customer). And for those interested, I crossed Holger Way and didn't stay in the parking lot :)

Not to mention the fact that vendors ship a shitload of beta products every six months to the EANTC interoperability tests [eantc.de] and other marketing events.

Re:And.. (1)

maliqua (1316471) | about 6 months ago | (#47224599)

because the bleeding edge juniper gear doesn't appear on ebay until its too late for them to do anything with the acquired knowledge

Re:And.. (0)

s.petry (762400) | about 6 months ago | (#47224743)

And what I don't understand is the part about reverse engineering. Yes, that may take place. But there is a very good other reason why every large vendor of routing equipment has competitive products in their engineering lab: interoperability.

I did not write TFA so don't know the true purpose for the spin, but as a hunch it's due to the Snowden leaks. Cisco did quite a bit wrong and lost people's trust. Even though you are correct that there are many reasons to purchase someone else' gear, software, etc.. people are going to assume the worst possible motive.

Secondarily, if you want page hits you don't write fair articles. You focus all of your attention on the worst aspects possible to draw attention.

I don't agree with any type of "spin", a company portraying Cisco as innocent is just as wrong as someone depicting the worse possible motives for everything is wrong. *shrug*, I'm not trying to make money off of page hits either.

Re:And.. (5, Interesting)

RobWright (3692495) | about 6 months ago | (#47225073)

I wrote the article. First, I can tell you unequivocally that the Snowden disclosures had nothing to do with this article. Furthermore, I don't think the article makes a judgment about Cisco's part in this matter; in fact, the article cites a legal expert in tech IP who explicitly states that Cisco's actions are in no way illegal (even if the product was procured before it was commercially available) and that buying your competitor's works for testing and reverse engineering is a required practice in the industry and "part of what makes markets work." Second, I take issue with your characterization of the article as spin, and your assertion that fair articles don't get page views. Lastly, I get the distinct feeling that you did not read the article. I may be wrong about that, and if so, I apologize for the incorrect assumption. But given your claim that the article is Snowden-inspired when there's no mention of the NSA or Snowden in the article (not to mention the article is more about Torrey Point Group and Juniper than Cisco), surely you can understand why I made the assumption.

Re:And.. (3, Insightful)

s.petry (762400) | about 6 months ago | (#47226385)

Thanks for the comments, but I believe you misunderstood my post.

The Title of the Slashdot post is "Cisco Spending Millions of Dollars Secretly Purchasing New Juniper Products". The primary topic of your article is Torrey Point, but here it's changed to Cisco. Your article was spun to make Cisco look bad on Slashdot, and a paragraph was plucked out of the article to extend that point.

In other words, the primary purpose of my post was not your article but the Slashdot post and title. Whoever posted the article here wrote a title to ensure maximum exposure while posting the link.

That said, your article is not free of bias. The title "In the Shadows" indicates the negative connotation, but I believe it's directed more at Torrey Point. It's hard to write objectively, especially considering Torrey Points actions.

Where the article has some spin (just a bit, nothing like the Slashdot summary) is that Cisco is painted as doing things abnormal in the industry. I'd bet dollars to donuts that Juniper buys millions of dollars worth of Cisco products every few years, just like Ericsson buys competitive products, and Alkatel buys competitive products, and Microsoft buys competitive products, etc...

Most of the time these purchases are not for reverse engineering. These purchases are either for benchmarking or compatibility testing.

A few qualifiers would have made it more objective, but hell I'm not your editor and don't get paid to write.

Re:And.. (1)

kenh (9056) | about 6 months ago | (#47225059)

You do realize Microsoft produces software for the Macintosh, right?

Re:And.. (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about 6 months ago | (#47225793)

Pretty much - I remember waaaay back to 2000-2001 when some contractor shared photos online of Microsoft buying Apple G5 PowerMac desktops by the pallet-load. [slashdot.org]

For their Mac business unit you mean? You know the one that develops all that software for the Mac? They're going to have a hard time developing for a system they don't have.

Re:And.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47223977)

Dogs lick their balls. What's new?

Why?

Because they can.

Re:And.. (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 6 months ago | (#47223987)

It's because they can't make a fist.

but they complaint others doing the same thing to (1)

hackingbear (988354) | about 6 months ago | (#47224155)

Huawei was accused of pretty much the same thing by the US companies/gov't. Looks like not a Chinese exclusive, but it is OK that we do this.

Re:but they complaint others doing the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47226027)

It's OK that American companies do this, because the Chinese do it so you're not as bad as that might make you seem.

Reseller? (2, Funny)

Greg666NYC (3665779) | about 6 months ago | (#47223157)

Perhaps they resell the products.

1. Get Juniper routers
2. Put custom firmware with NSA backdoor
3. ?
4. Profit

Re:Reseller? (2)

Shakrai (717556) | about 6 months ago | (#47224033)

New Slashdot comment SOP:

1. Read /. story about any topic, doesn't have to be relevant to the NSA.
2. Make joke about the NSA.
3. +5 upmod, with an average of +3 funny, +1 insightful, and +1 underrated

Twas Ever Thus (5, Interesting)

necro81 (917438) | about 6 months ago | (#47223197)

As soon as you start putting something on the market, especially if you are not selling directly to the end customer (i.e., through a distributor or VAR), you have to assume that your competitors are going to get ahold of your products. Expect them to be reverse engineered. Trade Secrets do not exist once it's out in the wild.

Frankly, I'd be surprised if Cisco didn't have this stuff. I would also be surprised if Juniper didn't have Cisco products.

Re:Twas Ever Thus (4, Insightful)

Ken D (100098) | about 6 months ago | (#47223289)

This is not news, it was SOP back in the 90's to get your hands on the competitors' new products and figure out how to sell against them, i.e. figure out their weaknesses.

Re:Twas Ever Thus (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47223323)

What about pre-release/beta products that aren't commercially available and haven't started shipping yet?

Re:Twas Ever Thus (2)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 6 months ago | (#47223445)

What about pre-release/beta products that aren't commercially available and haven't started shipping yet?

Even better! Really if that's true then the VAR was clearly given too much trust in who it decides to sell pre-release products to. They should go to established customers with a good history of cooperation, not just anyone who asks. All I can say about this story is "and I bet Juniper is doing the same thing".

Re:Twas Ever Thus (3, Insightful)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 6 months ago | (#47223553)

What about pre-release/beta products that aren't commercially available and haven't started shipping yet?

Even better! Really if that's true then the VAR was clearly given too much trust in who it decides to sell pre-release products to. They should go to established customers with a good history of cooperation, not just anyone who asks. All I can say about this story is "and I bet Juniper is doing the same thing".

I'd guess that Cisco is an established customer with a good history of cooperation -- they're definitely not just "anyone who asks."

I'd also guess that the VAR resells Cisco as well as Juniper, and probably supplies Juniper with Cisco's kit as well.

Re:Twas Ever Thus (1)

gnick (1211984) | about 6 months ago | (#47223741)

I'd also guess that the VAR resells Cisco as well as Juniper, and probably supplies Juniper with Cisco's kit as well.

Which to me seems reasonable. It's not like one or the other is going to run to the patent office and declare that they'd like to patent a new implementation they've developed, but refuse to disclose what it is or how it works.

When two companies are in similar lines, everybody generally comes out ahead when one knows what the other is up to.

Re:Twas Ever Thus (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47224145)

You know, you don't have to guess about that stuff -- it's in the article. The VAR was Juniper's top partner and did around 85 percent of its biz with them, and had no official ties to Cisco. The owners basically created shell companies, and they used their influence as a top Juniper partner to get the latest stuff at steep discounts and then turned around and sold it to Cisco, sometimes before the products were out of beta or closed testing.

Re:Twas Ever Thus (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 6 months ago | (#47223667)

I can't believe Juniper just handed over their VARs beta products without some sort of an NDA. That just seems utterly bizarre and inept.

Re:Twas Ever Thus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47225709)

I can't believe Juniper just handed over their VARs beta products without some sort of an NDA. That just seems utterly bizarre and inept.

I can't believe Google just handed over their beta products to millions of people without some sort of an NDA. That just seems utterly bizarre and inept.

Re:Twas Ever Thus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47226057)

So handing over beta hardware to your strongest competitor is exactly the same as giving your product some beta software?

Re:Twas Ever Thus (1)

kenh (9056) | about 6 months ago | (#47225085)

If they are selling items, doesn't that make them "released"?

Re:Twas Ever Thus (2)

decsnake (6658) | about 6 months ago | (#47223637)

Indeed. Back in the '80s when I worked for a Corporation that made Digital Equipment, we had an group that purchased our competitors equipment, evaluated it against our products in the same categories, and published a document called the Competitive Handbook. Outside of our financial information, the Competitive Handbook was one of our most closely protected documents.

sidestepping the obvious (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 6 months ago | (#47224871)

I'm sure you had plenty of VAX to clean the office each night, too.

Re:Twas Ever Thus (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 6 months ago | (#47223885)

Its been SOP for thousands of years.

Re:Twas Ever Thus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47224085)

Yes, purchasing the competition's products is SOP in the tech industry and perhaps most industries. But after reading the story, it seems the article focuses more on how Juniper's best reseller partner was going behind Juniper's back and selling equipment to Cisco, and making quite a bit a money of it. And it wasn't just new products but stuff that hadn't even been launched yet. Again it's not illegal, even for the pre-release stuff -- the article even states that -- but it speaks to just how big this practice is, and how far it's being taken.

Re:Twas Ever Thus (1)

the_B0fh (208483) | about 6 months ago | (#47224311)

It's the beta, not-for-sale-yet products that Cisco got their hands on that is the problem.

Re:Twas Ever Thus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47224963)

Dear readers:
I'm a spokesman for Huawei, and to be perfectly diplomatic, this is fucking BULL.
Here at Huawei, we have the world exclusive privilege of reverse engineering competitor's products.
Rest assured, our valued customers, that we will be taking Cisco to all adjudicating bodies including but not limited to the WTO, IMF, BBB, yo mama...
Thanks you again for choosing Huawei products.

And your point is what? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47223239)

Does anyone really think Juniper doesnt't purchase Cisco gear in a similar fashion? Corporate behavior like this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

Re:And your point is what? (1)

B'Trey (111263) | about 6 months ago | (#47223361)

Come as a surprise? If they WEREN'T doing this, then the people running the company would be incompetent and should be tossed out the door.

Re:And your point is what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47223577)

Here's a question from the article (not arguing, honestly curious): why didn't Juniper do anything to prevent Torrey Point from selling their stuff to Cisco? Sounds like they knew what was going on and gave them a slap on the wrist and didn't drop the hammer on them until a couple years later. So should the people running Juniper be tossed for letting this happen? And if I'm a Juniper shareholder, should I be pissed that Juniper knew, for example, that Cisco was getting a peak at QFabric before it was released and didn't do enough to stop it?

Re:And your point is what? (1)

RatherBeAnonymous (1812866) | about 6 months ago | (#47223973)

Or better yet - keep quite and use it to spread disinformation. A little corporate counter-espionage goes a long way.

Re:And your point is what? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47223365)

I share your lack of enthusiasm for this story. What company doesn't evaluate competitor products?

Re:And your point is what? (4, Insightful)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 6 months ago | (#47223451)

I've never worked in a place that did not have a competitive analysis lab and that did not have a tear-down process where everyone's products were looked at top to bottom, literally dissected, x-rayed, etc. It's used by everyone from design engineers on future products, to supply chain analysts to lawyers looking for patent infringements.

It's a good practice, too often companies get dominated by a few senior people with strong personalities who refuse to change. Show them a landscape of products were things are done differently, and with evidence that those things are working BETTER, and you can sometimes unclog some old-fartism. It's rare to see products with idea that hadn't been thought of before, but frequently you see implemented ideas that were shot down in your own org by someone.

I don't care how prerelease something is, if you put it out there expect that your competitors will see it.

Re: And your point is what? (4, Funny)

Stoutlimb (143245) | about 6 months ago | (#47223981)

I bet BlackBerry never had one.

Re:And your point is what? (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 6 months ago | (#47223477)

yea, I've worked for a couple of hardware companies and this was always how they did things and not a secret. They even gave a demo of how they use expensive xray machines to dissect chips and see how they worked. This wasn't just to steal ideas, it was also to find flaw to leak to the press or faults to use in sales pitches. I even found a new device at my local computer store once, mentioned it in a meeting and got asked by an engineer to pick one up and mail it to him in Japan. Some companies even go to lengths to conceal their hardware. I knew of a custom guitar amp manufacturer that embedded their entire board in a special plastic so taking it apart would destroy it. This isn't anything new at all.

Re:And your point is what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47224297)

Assuming one reason for them doing it is compatibility testing, I'd even say this is responsible corporate behavior.

But didn't their patents protect them? ;D (1, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 6 months ago | (#47223247)

Amazing how current patent law is so useless it can't stop blatant reverse engineering, yet it can stifle so much real innovation.

Re:But didn't their patents protect them? ;D (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47223333)

Amazing how current patent law is so useless it can't stop blatant reverse engineering, yet it can stifle so much real innovation.

Reverse engineering is not illegal. What you do with the information learned from reverse engineering is what matters.

Re:But didn't their patents protect them? ;D (0)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 6 months ago | (#47223397)

If the patents work, then reverse engineering is worthless. If they don't, then you absolutely need reverse engineering.

For this reason, the test of a patent system is are companies willing to reverse engineer. If they are, then the patents don't work. If they don't think it's worthwhile then it is working.

Re:But didn't their patents protect them? ;D (1)

sinij (911942) | about 6 months ago | (#47223505)

Our technological progress is held back by patents, outside of rare situations of coming up with a breakthrough idea, the creative process is incremental. You take other people's work, in a field established by other people, apply theoretical principles and models discovered by others, and then you incrementally improve the idea.

Why should there be protection for such incremental improvements when it demonstrably holds entire process of incremental progress back? Well, for one there should be some incentive to innovate. So we as society accept slower rate of innovation for larger volume of innovation, ending up with more.

Imagine society where "reverse engineering" is impractical/infeasible. You will have even more people attempting to innovate, because end result would be more valuable, but a lot of this work will be duplicate. Reverse engineering is allowed because it reduces the duplication, and that offsets marginal decrease to innovation. This is part of optimal solution that encourages innovation yet keeps down the duplication.

Re:But didn't their patents protect them? ;D (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47224403)

Except that there are un-patented trade secrets in some devices, that are no patented because they would rather try to keep them actually secret. Other times, even if it is patented, it is nice to know what the competitor is actually using, patented or not. Even if they are using a patented design, there are variations and design decisions that could be applied to other things not under the patent, or it could be a good to see an actual real world test of an implementation of the patent. And plenty of stuff still gets used that is too old or generic to be patented.

Re:But didn't their patents protect them? ;D (5, Insightful)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 6 months ago | (#47223371)

If it wasn't for legal reverse engineering, most of us would be sitting in front of $2000 IBM PCs.

Re:But didn't their patents protect them? ;D (2)

sribe (304414) | about 6 months ago | (#47223405)

If it wasn't for legal reverse engineering, most of us would be sitting in front of $2000 IBM PCs.

Don't forget the IBM v Phoenix lawsuit. IBM wanted it that way, and thank goodness, they lost.

Re:But didn't their patents protect them? ;D (1)

_anomaly_ (127254) | about 6 months ago | (#47223569)

So, you're watching Halt and Catch Fire [amctv.com] too? ;-)

Re:But didn't their patents protect them? ;D (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 6 months ago | (#47223753)

No. That's a pretty famous story. Is the show good?

Re:But didn't their patents protect them? ;D (1)

_anomaly_ (127254) | about 6 months ago | (#47223867)

Yeah, true. The show's OK so far. Has more potential to interest me than most of the other stuff on TV these days.

Re:But didn't their patents protect them? ;D (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 6 months ago | (#47223907)

Only 1.1M watched the premiere, so despite it being "pretty good," I wouldn't get too attached to it. [Turn (their revolutionary war spy show) got about twice that many...]

For geeks, there's some fairly cool retro-tech, but it's all only loosely based on parallel events, so it lacks some of the interest a more historically grounded show might have.

Re:But didn't their patents protect them? ;D (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 6 months ago | (#47224067)

...it lacks some of the interest a more historically grounded show might have.

Like Mad Men, for example? I think HCF is starting out just fine. I'm curious to see where they take it.

Re:But didn't their patents protect them? ;D (1)

richy freeway (623503) | about 6 months ago | (#47224183)

It's utter drivel. The first episode at least showed a little promise, but whatever there was they swiftly destroyed in episode two.

Re:But didn't their patents protect them? ;D (1)

stdarg (456557) | about 6 months ago | (#47224473)

It is pretty bad indeed. And I've watched "Silicon Valley" already so I can't help but think of its take-downs of the self-important, pompous, "change the world" mentality every time the sales guy talks on HCF.

Re:But didn't their patents protect them? ;D (1)

richy freeway (623503) | about 6 months ago | (#47224985)

I'm enjoying Silicon Valley. It might have holes in it's portrayal of IT and technology, but at least it's got plenty of laughs and a story that doesn't make me want to slit my wrists (Halt and Catch Fire).

Re:But didn't their patents protect them? ;D (1)

westlake (615356) | about 6 months ago | (#47224905)

If it wasn't for legal reverse engineering, most of us would be sitting in front of $2000 IBM PCs.

MS-DOS sold for $50 retail list.

There were name-branded and commercially viable MS-DOS PCs on the market before the cloning of the IBM PC BIOS. The same with software.

CP/M was the dominant business-oriented OS in the eight bit world and a 16 bit CP/M clone was a natural choice for IBM. But Microsoft had an entrant in the 16 bit UNIX sweepstakes and its willingness to sell an OS at mass market prices to all comers was something new.

Re:But didn't their patents protect them? ;D (1)

alen (225700) | about 6 months ago | (#47223515)

the point of patent law is to tell the world exactly how your idea works so someone can reverse engineer it with some improvements

One law for corporations another for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47223285)

I thougt reverse engineering this way was against the law in America?

Re:One law for corporations another for you (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | about 6 months ago | (#47223395)

You can't copy someone else's exact implementation and sell it as your own. You can reverse engineer.

common practice (1)

guarants (142200) | about 6 months ago | (#47223325)

This happens all the time amongst competitors. It doesn't mean they want to reverse engineer or violate patents; it is usually so you can educate yourself as to what your competitors are up to and make sure that you're staying competitive.

Re:common practice (1)

AMDinator (996330) | about 6 months ago | (#47223391)

I can vouch for this.

Re:common practice (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 6 months ago | (#47223473)

This happens all the time amongst competitors. It doesn't mean they want to reverse engineer or violate patents; it is usually so you can educate yourself as to what your competitors are up to and make sure that you're staying competitive.

Rather, aside from maintaining competitive positioning, they are probably looking for anything novel that hasn't been patented yet, so they can copy it (and perhaps patent it themselves). Not every invention is patented or even patent worthy but it still could be valuable.

This just in - the water is wet! (1)

sinij (911942) | about 6 months ago | (#47223349)

This is not at all surprising (or illegal). Almost any industry manufacturing any kind of wiget, be it a router, a car, or an orbital booster will purchase and examine their competition.

This would be a story only if they acquired these illegally, for example by breaking and entering the competitor's research lab.

Re:This just in - the water is wet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47223489)

Yup. And of course, when the press got wind of the story, they would add the obligatory -gate suffix.

Re:This just in - the water is wet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47224011)

This is not at all surprising (or illegal). Almost any industry manufacturing any kind of wiget, be it a router, a car, or an orbital booster will purchase and examine their competition. This would be a story only if they acquired these illegally, for example by breaking and entering the competitor's research lab.

Or, as I saw happen back in the 90s, send one or more of your guys to get a job at the competitor, then quit after you've obtained all their designs.

Many industries standard: buy competing products. (1)

Moskit (32486) | about 6 months ago | (#47223421)

Company in any area would be pretty silly if they don't buy and check how competitors' equipment works. Car analogy actually works here there - people selling Abcd cars would drive Bghj and Celkj cars, so they can better compare them and advise customers of faults in others.

Even TFA says:
purchasing a competitor's products for testing and reverse engineering is not only a common and accepted practice, but "an important component of entrepreneurial capitalism" in the IT industry. "This is part of what makes markets work," he said. "You're supposed to know how your competitor's products work and incorporate as much as you can to make the next generation of your product better."

Regarding intelectual property Cisco seems far more advanced on hardware level, so obtaining gear from competitor is not really going to move things forward. Article also does not mention (unless I missed it) obtaining equipment which is in developement.
The best way for commercial spying is information exchanged by people - engineers from all those networking Silicon Valley companies know each other, they gossip, they betray secrets. This is how most of information leaks through, straight from the sources, not via reverse-engineering.

You can be also completely sure that Juniper bought Cisco equipment for the same purposes, and so did other companies. Even TFA mentions Alcatel-Lucent buying Cisco. It was an all-out activity.

Re:Many industries standard: buy competing product (2)

jones_supa (887896) | about 6 months ago | (#47223529)

Car analogy actually works here there - people selling Abcd cars would drive Bghj and Celkj cars

That Celkj sounds like some new East European vehicle brand.

Re:Many industries standard: buy competing product (1)

Moskit (32486) | about 6 months ago | (#47224777)

Sounds Turkish or Albanian to me.
I guess car companies will run out of fancy names soon, and people will drive Ford Celkj or Fiat Celkj ;-)

Re:Many industries standard: buy competing product (1)

David_Hart (1184661) | about 6 months ago | (#47223647)

Regarding intelectual property Cisco seems far more advanced on hardware level, so obtaining gear from competitor is not really going to move things forward. Article also does not mention (unless I missed it) obtaining equipment which is in developement.
The best way for commercial spying is information exchanged by people - engineers from all those networking Silicon Valley companies know each other, they gossip, they betray secrets. This is how most of information leaks through, straight from the sources, not via reverse-engineering.

You can be also completely sure that Juniper bought Cisco equipment for the same purposes, and so did other companies. Even TFA mentions Alcatel-Lucent buying Cisco. It was an all-out activity.

Actually, Cisco used to be a front runner with more advanced network products. However, more and more network vendors, such as Juniper and Aruba, have caught up and passed Cisco. For example, while Juniper routers aren't as well known in the enterprise space, they are used heavily in the ISP and cloud provider space.

The one area where Cisco still has an edge is the ability to centralize management of all of their devices. Practically every network management solution provider supports Cisco. This will change as Juniper becomes more popular in the Enterprise, but it just isn't there yet.

The article did mention Cisco buying Beta gear. This is usually the last stage before release. It must have been a Beta unit to show customers for the VAR to be able to get their hands on it.

Re:Many industries standard: buy competing product (1)

Moskit (32486) | about 6 months ago | (#47224735)

Thanks, missed the beta reference on first read.

Cisco is still more advanced on hardware front, but they lag a lot on software. Standards implementation (even if created by Cisco) in particular, although given how many products they have to cover partially explains those problems.

Juniper usually did "cheap but good enough" trick to gain a lot of ground. Cisco's products were often better engineered, but customers did not care for those better features, or did not understand them, which resulted in Juniper gaining a lot of market share. They have not passed Cisco though (yet) - in 2014 they have about 17% in edge (19% Cisco) and 28% in core routers (62% Cisco).

Markets are in transition anyway (buzzword compliancy), so next 2-3 years will show who got it right. Regardless of checking out competitors' products.

Re:Many industries standard: buy competing product (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47225163)

Can you elaborate on the repeated claims that Cisco has better hardware?

The argument of custom vs merchant silicon has been going on a while, but I feel as though most people agree that the competitive advantages of custom silicon has dramatically decreased with modern commodity chip fab. I am sure they have some neat asics that perform specific proprietary tasks well, but I don't know if I would say that it makes them better. I am more for open standards.

Juniper is better (1)

BitcoinBenny (3025373) | about 6 months ago | (#47223531)

It might just have something to do with the fact that the Juniper products are with few exceptions a million times better. I avoid almost all of the CIsco gear like the plague.

Re:Juniper is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47223579)

Juniper products are with few exceptions a million times better

Be more specific.

Re:Juniper is better (4, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | about 6 months ago | (#47223725)

Juniper products are with few exceptions a million times better

Be more specific.

Okay... 1,070,204.982 times better - with a few exceptions.

Re:Juniper is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47226081)

I cannot really compare Juniper to Cisco. Even though I've been around Cisco gear for years I'm not a networking guy.

A friend of mine used Juniper gear for years and loved the stuff. Well I had a chance to look at a small Juniper switch and the documentation that came with it. It was a quick once-over only you understand! My first impressions were strongly favourable though. Everything looked tight and professional. For a small SOHO type switch the documentation was first-rate.

Of course Cisco gives the same impressions too.

Re:Juniper is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47223791)

100.000 times better + 200.000 times better + 300.000 times better + 400.000 times better

Re:Juniper is better (1)

Shatrat (855151) | about 6 months ago | (#47224831)

Here's a specific example. In a Cisco router you can install a Cisco SFP. In a Juniper router you can install a Juniper SFP, a Finisar SFP, a Fujitsu SFP et cetera. As long as it's standards compliant it works. The Cisco devices will read the manufacturer from the EEPROM on the pluggable, and shut down the port if it's not theirs.

Re:Juniper is better (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47224969)

No they dont they just report that its a non Cisco SFP. You can tell the switch to ignore teh fact that its a non Cisco SFP.

  service unsupported-transceiver
no errdisable detect cause gbic-invalid

will bring the port back up.
There are equivalent commands on most Cisco switches, probably all.

Re:Juniper is better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47225225)

TIL - Thanks

Re:Juniper is better (2)

acvolt (241850) | about 6 months ago | (#47225773)

On some Cisco equipment you can tell it to ignore the non Cisco SFP's. In the Cisco Transport gear and large routers like the ASR9k you cannot use non Cisco SFP's. In fact Cisco transport gear won't use Cisco SFP's sold as router sfp's.

Re:Juniper is better (0)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 6 months ago | (#47223699)

Juniper products are with few exceptions a million times better.

Exaggerate much?

Re:Juniper is better (1)

BitcoinBenny (3025373) | about 6 months ago | (#47225639)

Actually no, I meant it. Most of the Cisco products are a steaming pile.

I will say this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47223541)

as an IT in the business for three decades now, Juniper does make better gear. Yes, this is subjective, but their HW and SW are just nicer all around.

This isn't really news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47223715)

The only thing notable about this is that the partner did it against the wishes of Juniper.

I work for a very large storage vendor, and we buy the other very large vendor's equipment. And they buy ours. Both circumstances are bought (legally) through partners.

GoDaddy buys hosting accounts, too. (2)

mr_mischief (456295) | about 6 months ago | (#47223837)

Various web hosting providers including GoDaddy have been known to buy hosting accounts at competitors. This is often done with a company credit card under the name of a company executive or division manager. They do it to see things like how much traffic a common application like WordPress or ZenCart can take on various price points for hosting at the competition. They may also check out customizations to the control panel software and choose which features they may want to implement for their customers, too. This is often not even frowned upon by the target company. It's an endorsement that you're of interest to the competition for one thing.

Figuring out how your performance compares to the competition is quite different from being able to improve your own performance without killing your margin. That said, with something as easily monitored as a server account any attempts to poke around under the hood too much are easier to stop than in hardware like Juniper/Cisco.

Interoperability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47223845)

I should think that a _networking_ company is required to have competing products for interoperability testing and debugging.

What would be really surprising... (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 6 months ago | (#47223893)

... would be a CRN investigative report that cisco does not purchase competitors' products for analysis.

.

Fortunately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47224139)

...the SlashDot community will keep this uner wraps.

normal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47224205)

This is part of a normal Competitive Intelligence framework.

This happens in virtually all domains where an engineered product is involved. The extent, degree of it being publicized, and degree of funding varies by industry, geopolitical location, and other factors.

What's the news here? (1)

sirwired (27582) | about 6 months ago | (#47224207)

News Flash! Company legally buys competitor's gear on the open market!

What, precisely, is the story here?

story is how they were getting early access... (1)

Ionized (170001) | about 6 months ago | (#47224509)

story is that one of juniper's major partners was underhandedly selling prerelease, demo, & beta products to cisco. while legal, it's shady as fuck, and is almost certainly something that would have pissed juniper off to the point of severing ties with the vendor.

All companies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#47224287)

I have been in Enterasys, Cisco, Extreme, Juniper labs (in their respective organizations). All of them have everyone elses equipment. They check from interoperability and also how the other bands perform. This is big especially in the carrier routing space.

This problem is as old as manufacturing (1)

kriston (7886) | about 6 months ago | (#47225495)

This problem is as old as manufacturing.
Do we really not know or fail to remember that this is how the entire Japanese electronics and automotive industries were spawned? This is how the electronic industry of Korea came about, and one third of the entire Soviet Union's compute capacity from 1950 to 1990. Not to mention the entire DECSYSTEM-20 compatibles market and all the AMD, Cyrix, IBM, NexGen, WinChip, RISE, etc. x86-compatibles market.

I'm sure someone has already or will soon point out how this is newsworthy.

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