Juniper your life
Date: Thursday , June 01, 2006
Walking along the labs of the Bangalore development center of Juniper Networks is like watching a science fiction movie. Thousands of routers kept in racks as high as seven feet resemble the control center of a spaceship you often come across in movies. These routers aren’t just samples. They are for real. “These routers can handle the entire Asian Internet traffic,” Sridhar Sarathy, Managing Director, Juniper Networks India says pointing towards the high-end machines.
Located in the sylvan environment amidst lush greenery and a lake thrown in between, the three-year-old development center of the $8 billion Sunnyvale, California based designer and maker of routers, has been mandated to develop an array of products made by Juniper. “We do a full spectrum of engineering activity,” Sarathy says. “We do hardware, software, testing, and technical publication at the Bangalore center.” The primary benefactors of these are the Internet users across the world for whom the Internet has become a source of life, information, and wealth.
Like its peers who have invested in an India center to benefit from the country’s rich engineering tradition, Juniper has immensely benefited by setting up its development center in Bangalore. Sarathy says the center has a major role in every product that Juniper sells around the world. “A substantial part of any product that Juniper ships commercially is done in Bangalore,” Sarathy says. “We want to turn this center into a center of excellence.”
Not overnight, but changes are visible. The center has part or complete component ownership or complete product ownership. “This means we are known as a place where people can come to work where they can get a full range of activity,” says Sampath ‘Sam’ Srinivas, Vice President and Chief Technologist.
Today the activities at the center are divided into two major products-Blade and Enterprise Router. For Juniper, enterprise router is a critical business. A critical part of their new range of carrier class router was developed in India. “Core development of the carrier class router is happening in India. Bangalore is the center of gravity,” Srinivas says. “A large team based here adds new features and customizes the routers for the large enterprises globally,” adds Sarathy.
Juniper has launched catalyst blades for its range of routers. These blades, also known as Secure Port Modules offer a combination of firewall and VPN features. The blades are essentially circuit boards supporting two Juniper built ASICs that offers up to 30 GB of firewall performance and up to 20 GB of virtual private network throughput. With rising applications such as voice and video straining networks, and traffic getting complex, large enterprises and telecom firms are looking for faster throughput, and this is where Juniper’s blade comes into picture.
The new souped up firewall technology has a crucial role to play in Juniper’s strategy to get a bigger share of this market and engineers here are working in that direction. “The next generation of blade and its entire product line is being generated out of India and is very strategic for the company,” says Srinivas, a Juniper veteran who returned last year to India.
Juniper is also working on a next generation product called GGSM in collaboration with Ericsson for mobile devices and substantial work is being done in Bangalore on a J Series enterprise router product. Juniper wants to have a pie of the highly competitive enterprise router space. Their J-series services router delivers one of the industry’s most advanced Junos modular operating system in a hardware platform that is better suited for smaller sites, including remote, branch, and regional offices. The Junos software runs many functions independently and delivers high levels of security, uptime, and performance, with reduced operations effort.
On the other hand Juniper, with $2 billion annual revenue, says the Bangalore center has a program managers who runs these operations and whose responsibility is to deliver on complete program. Only a few multinational companies have hired program managers for their India operations. The management back in the U.S. has shown faith in the Bangalore center and has let them have a program manager whose job is to consolidate the hardware, software and testing together and ensure that all three are done specifically for the product.
“Right from beginning we have believed in going to places where there is world-class talent and we believe there is world-class talent in Bangalore,” Sarathy says adding “so we want to continue to expand our development center here and continue to expand more product ownership meaning that more innovation will be done in India.”
About 400 engineers meander the two-floor facility and the company is looking for more people. The company is looking at software engineers who have networking experience besides experience in operating systems and testing. On the hardware side the company is looking at engineers with experience in board level design, board design, thermal heating, and specialized engineers with deep operational skills.
The center has so far produced two patents and there are more in the pipeline. “We have a very aggressive patent reward system. We streamline the process,” Srinivas adds. “Engineers working in Juniper get complete ownership of the product and the company shows complete roadmap rewarding the engineers and helping their innovation to fruition. Our reward system is such that it’s like running your company within a big company,” Sarathy says about their work innovation practices.
in the company is a paltry 10 percent while in the last financial year it was even less at 7 percent. “We hire successfully from other companies and let them work on new products and new service lines. This excites the engineers here to work harder,” Sarathy shares.
“The place has been custom built for the kind of work we do here,” Sarathy claims pointing to chairs and tables that can be adjusted to engineer’s specifications. Every Friday, an ergonomic expert attends to help engineers with their chairs and cubicle. Every employee gets a broadband Internet connection to work from home when need be.
The best part is an engineer gets to earn Rs. 1 lakh ($2500) on a successful referral. “This has been really successful. Our employee referral rate is 60 percent,” says Sarathy.
The company organizes treasure hunt for every new employee inside the company. Engineers are told to identify a product in the lab or identify one of the conference halls named after cinemas. Film names are an easier way to tell the members where to meet. One such hall has been named after Richard Attenborough’s ‘Gandhi.’ So when the team meets, they say “Lets meet at Gandhi."