Navigating Change: Lessons from our CEO | Juniper Global Summit 2022
The Future of Networking is Here
The next phase of networking is all about software that is cloud-delivered and AI-driven. Artificial intelligence, or AI, makes it easier for providers to operate their networks virtually, while enabling users to do “practically anything” online, including accessing and sending data safely in the cloud.
Technology is always evolving, always changing. If companies that rely on networking for their bottom line don't change with the times, they may lose relevance. Learn how Rami and his team successfully pivoted the business from hardware to software by focusing on three core elements. Plus, how they continue to attract and retain talent that believes in a mission that is critical to our lives today.
Listen closely as Rami shares his prediction on when he thinks we’ll truly realize the self-driving network –– making life easier with continually optimized networks that can address poor experiences and potential vulnerabilities with the help of efficient AI and ML capabilities.
This conversation between Manoj Leelanivas and Rami Rahim took place at Juniper’s Global Summit, which celebrates how customer needs drive the company’s vision forward.
How data-driven AI drives faster deployments and resolutions
How Juniper is addressing complexity and building resilience through diversity
What Rami and Manoj are most excited about as they look toward the future of networking
Who is this for?
0:05 Welcome to the Global Summit.
0:07 I'm Manoj Leelanivas, Chief Operating Officer, Juniper Networks.
0:11 Joining me today is the Chief Executive Officer of Juniper Networks, Rami Rahim.
0:16 I'm delighted to have you join us here today.
0:18 Thank you, Manoj, I am delighted to be here.
0:21 Let me start with you, Rami.
0:23 I think you graduated from Stanford about 25-something years ago,
0:27 and you've been associated with networking throughout.
0:30 How has networking evolved from the 90's to today?
0:34 It's a great question, and you know what, I'm going to fill you in on a little secret.
0:38 It's true my entire career has been in networking with the exception of one year prior to Stanford
0:43 where I pursued another passion of mine, computer graphics,
0:46 but that's for another meeting like this.
0:49 I didn't know that.
0:50 Let's talk about the evolution of networking.
0:54 When I first joined Juniper, I think it was all about this convergence
0:59 of a single network protocol that would essentially be the communication
1:02 over the global internet that essentially Juniper bet its existence on.
1:07 Had it been something other than TCPIP, we would not be having this interview.
1:11 The next phase was around Silicon technology,
1:14 and I think this is a phase that Juniper not only participated in,
1:17 but we led with really innovative Silicon technology
1:21 that we continue to pursue and innovate in.
1:24 The current phase, I believe, is around software, and not just any software,
1:29 but software that is cloud-delivered, that's AI-driven,
1:32 that truly transforms the experience of those that are operating networks day in, day out,
1:38 by making their lives much easier, but it also transforms the experience of those
1:44 that are using the network to do practically anything today.
1:48 I think that's what the current phase or current era of networking is all about
1:52 that we obviously are really excited about
1:55 because it gives us an opportunity to show the world what we're capable of.
1:59 That's great. I'm glad you touched software because I remember about a decade ago,
2:04 Mark Hendrickson had this famous op-ed in Wall Street Journal
2:07 about software leading the world, and now AI is leading software.
2:12 How has networking industry embraced this AI evolution,
2:16 and now that data is becoming the overall currency for everything?
2:20 You're touching on a really important topic.
2:24 If you're going to talk about AI, you have to start by talking about data.
2:29 I've said now a few times that data is the most precious resource in the world today.
2:37 We, as a planet are accumulating data at an unprecedented rate.
2:42 Something like % of all the data in the world today
2:46 has been accumulated in just the last two years alone.
2:50 The question now is of course, what do you do with all this data?
2:53 What do you do with this incredible resource?
2:56 Especially for our industry, we, I'm talking collectively,
3:00 we as an industry are sitting on a gold mine of information, and yet it is untapped.
3:06 I think the answer to that question lies in artificial intelligence.
3:09 There is no way that any human can tap into that data and do anything useful with it on their own.
3:16 It has to be left to machines and artificial intelligence.
3:19 The goal for machines, of course, is to learn from this data,
3:23 data that's at the granularity of users and experience and applications,
3:28 and then do something really interesting with this data,
3:32 and I think some of the most interesting things to do are real value-generating outcomes,
3:37 like accelerate the time to deployment of new services,
3:42 understand when issues occur in the network and fix them
3:44 before anybody even has a chance to understand that there has been a problem in the network.
3:50 Heck, reduce problems altogether, and our AI-driven enterprise approach,
3:56 in fact, our AI-driven networking approach is all about doing all of the above.
4:01 Yes, there's been growth in the last couple of decades across the entire tech industry
4:06 and also networking and there's a lot of change,
4:10 and the pace of change has also changed in many ways, right?
4:14 Yes. When you have this rapid pace,
4:16 how do you get everyone to swim in the same direction,
4:20 row in the same direction in the industry, as well as Juniper, how do you do that?
4:25 It's a great question.
4:26 In fact, you could probably answer it better than I can since you are the one
4:30 that's always pushing for that change that we need so much.
4:35 It's true, I think any tech company needs to evolve,
4:40 needs to change in order to survive because our landscape,
4:44 our environment, it's constantly changing.
4:47 You know better than anybody else because you've been on this transformation journey with me,
4:51 that Juniper has been not only on a transformation journey,
4:54 I'd say it's a reinvention journey, right?
4:58 People know us as the company that build carrier-class, highly reliable,
5:03 mission-critical networks, and we continue to do that,
5:06 but if you're going to pivot to this world of software and AI-driven and experience,
5:11 you do need to change, and you and I together have been embarking on this.
5:15 We put in place a strategy, then we communicated that strategy to everybody that would listen;
5:23 investors, our own employees, our customers, our partners, right?
5:29 With change, you have to get buy-in,
5:31 and overly communicating is really important.
5:35 Then we went and we executed, right?
5:37 We transformed, we put the right organizational structure in place.
5:40 We transformed our goods and market to be able to tap into the broad market opportunity.
5:45 We have been more acquisitive over the last few years because we knew that some of the innovation
5:51 that we needed was outside of our own skillset, out of our own capability,
5:56 and so we have been more acquisitive than normal
5:58 over the last few years to bring in the talent and the technology.
6:02 We've implemented companywide objectives to ensure
6:06 that we're executing and executing rapidly on this new and exciting vision.
6:12 All in all, yes, change is hard,
6:15 especially for humans that like consistency and more of the same,
6:20 but I think we've done a tremendous job
6:23 in demonstrating the power of that change and that reinvention to Juniper.
6:26 You can see it in our incredible results that we're posting quarter after quarter these days.
6:31 Well said, Rami.
6:32 I think the true transformation is on its way.
6:35 I'm going to touch on a topic related to this, but probably more closer to your heart.
6:41 All this change is great,
6:42 but I think there is also an evolution in terms of the workforce, right?
6:45 The demographic is changing now, the Millennials and the Next Gen Zs are coming to the workforce,
6:51 so things are different from what it used to be.
6:53 I mean like ,years ago, organizations were run in a command-and-control fashion.
6:58 Now you've got to get buy-in in different ways, more interdependent culture.
7:02 There is much more of a mission orientation.
7:05 How do you attract and retain talent?
7:07 This is not just for Juniper, I'm sure all of our customers are going through the same challenge,
7:12 right, in terms of keeping their networking and security professional excited and engaged,
7:17 and attracting the next set of talent, so what is your point of view on this?
7:21 It is absolutely a top-of-mind issue for me, for all of us at Juniper.
7:28 We want to make sure that we're able to attract and retain the best talent to allow us
7:33 to fuel the growth that we're seeing in our business,
7:36 and I'm sure the supplies, as you said,
7:38 to everybody that's in the industry, everybody that's watching this.
7:42 I think there are some basic things around having a really great culture, good people,
7:47 giving employees, new hires, the opportunity to learn, to grow their careers.
7:54 All of this is a basics, but I also believe strongly that the kind of talent that we want,
8:02 we as an industry here, is talent that believes in a mission, in a purpose,
8:07 in a calling that's greater than ourselves, and if you think about this industry,
8:12 not just Juniper, this industry and what we do, it's really important.
8:18 If you think about the last couple of years of this pandemic,
8:21 where we needed the network to do practically anything;
8:27 to work, to educate our children, to do commerce, to shop,
8:31 to get healthcare, I shudder to think of a situation
8:38 that we've had to deal with during the pandemic,
8:41 without the technology, the products, and the solutions that this industry's responsible for.
8:46 I've always felt this strong sense of responsibility for the work that we do,
8:50 but I've never felt it more than how I felt over the last couple of years.
8:55 I think this mission is incredibly motivating for me.
8:59 I also think it can be incredibly motivating for many of those that are considering now
9:05 where to build their careers, and that's, I think articulating that and always reminding people
9:11 and providing people with that context is probably the right thing to do.
9:16 Bringing back to today a little bit, you mentioned the pandemic, coming out of the pandemic,
9:22 but then now there's a Russian invasion going on, there is inflation, which is going rampant,
9:30 and there is always the specter of the recession behind you.
9:34 It's a very different time, we are getting into a little bit of the unknown world.
9:38 Juniper has done extremely well.
9:39 Our customers are super excited with our solutions, but in these unknown times,
9:44 how do you make sure that our approach to the company
9:48 as well as the industry is as received as possible?
9:51 What are the things you think about to do?
9:53 It's really important that you're always trying to look as far ahead as possible,
10:00 around corners to the extent it's possible, and to get as much of an understanding
10:06 as you possibly can about big inflection points,
10:10 risks that are happening in the industry so that you can react to them quickly enough.
10:15 So obviously, we have our CTO, Raj, that's always trying to think three to five years
10:19 from a technology standpoint and making sure that
10:22 we're equipped to not only navigate around these inflections but to capitalize on them,
10:27 to leverage them, to take share.
10:30 This is really important but nobody has a crystal ball,
10:34 and especially in a dynamic world such as the one you've described that we live in today,
10:38 I think it's really important to build a resilient company.
10:42 We've all always believed at Juniper that resilience comes with diversity in our business.
10:48 You know this, Manoj, for the first time ever in Juniper's history, Q,
10:53 Enterprise became our largest segment.
10:57 This is in no way saying that the other segments of SP and Cloud are not important or are not well.
11:03 They're actually performing exceptionally well but think about that breadth
11:07 that we have built in our business with the diversity
11:10 across each of our strategic vertical market segments and strategic solutions.
11:15 That to me is an important part of how you build a resilient company that can withstand challenges
11:22 that might impact us in a particular segment or another.
11:27 This is all part of this transformation and reinvention I just talked about
11:31 and one of the most important outcomes of that reinvention has been that resiliency.
11:36 Last year, Juniper had a good growth year.
11:39 This year, we're going to post even more growth, that's what we predicted to the street.
11:43 It's a great time.
11:44 There's a certain swagger, a confidence in Juniper, and customers can see that too.
11:49 So what's new and exciting in store for our customers?
11:53 I could talk about all these cool things that are happening in our industry, Web, cryptocurrency,
11:58 the metaverse, all these cool things.
12:02 I think all of these are exciting things, but there's a lot of uncertainty.
12:06 I'm excited about the fact that this is in an industry
12:09 that has now gone from just talking about
12:12 and power pointing the promise of experience first networking
12:19 through software and automation into actual deployments,
12:24 real-life examples of where software has truly crushed the number of trouble tickets,
12:32 crushed the poor experience that people have come to expect of their enterprise WiFi
12:38 and the wired networking experience.
12:42 That to me is the most exciting thing and that's not done yet.
12:46 We're like just scratching the surface of what is possible.
12:49 The explosive growth that we're seeing in our business right now, in fact,
12:53 is just the beginning of what's possible.
12:56 I truly believe that just as there is this need today for a self-driving automobile,
13:03 the future is around a self-driving network where humans literally have to do nothing.
13:09 The network essentially gets out of the way
13:10 and we can focus on what is important which is driving our business forward,
13:15 advancing our business strategies, innovating, and keeping the disrupters out of our space.
13:21 Heck, disrupting ourselves.
13:23 That's what's really exciting for me, Manoj, but you know what, Manoj,
13:27 I think you can answer this question even better than I can,
13:29 so why don't you share your thoughts about what's exciting and what's ahead?
13:32 You're putting me on the spot there, Rami.
13:35 First of all, I think I'm super excited of the mission of the company.
13:38 The last three years of navigating this complex pandemic wouldn't have been possible
13:42 without a mission like what we have in the company to connect everything, empower everyone.
13:47 The fact that we could contact trace anybody,
13:51 the fact that flawlessly education continued on as before,
13:56 we could order food from anywhere, all of us overnight became part of digital transformation.
14:02 Everybody started working from home and it just almost flawlessly worked.
14:06 years ago when there was a pandemic,
14:07 the world stood still, and this time the world did not.
14:11 I think that's very powerful personally for me.
14:13 Looking forward to the future for us and our customers together,
14:16 I think there is we got a great accolade from Gartner.
14:20 We are the Leader in the Magic Quadrant of Wired & Wireless.
14:24 To me, that is just a start.
14:25 There's an opportunity to make things easy for our customers,
14:28 our enterprise customers in terms of WiFi, SD-WAN,
14:33 everything, all AI-driven, and things just works.
14:36 Imagine the beauty when there are no more of the swivel chairs
14:40 where people are looking at the different dashboards, things just work.
14:42 I think that's exciting for me.
14:44 Similarly, if I look at the data center,
14:46 gone are the days of the vertically integrated data center networking stacks.
14:50 The ability to have a multi-vendor solution
14:52 where everything is orchestrated and automated flawlessly,
14:55 that's what the App Store brings to the table.
14:57 That's exciting.
14:57 I want customers to really, really embrace that and see the benefits of that.
15:02 Look at our cloud business.
15:03 I'm super excited about it.
15:04 Once upon a time, you were talking about our strong routing business in the cloud.
15:08 Now, two data center mega wins in the top in the last nine months.
15:15 That's exciting.
15:16 We are working with our cloud customers,
15:17 making their customers and networks more secure and capable.
15:22 Last but not the least, when you look at service providers,
15:25 we have held our own in the core and edge of service provider networks
15:28 for a long, long period of time.
15:30 Great solutions.
15:31 Now we're extending that same Junos, the same capabilities to the Metro,
15:35 as well as providing an automation solution.
15:38 Again, true to what you said about experience first,
15:40 everything is going to be control point driven.
15:43 This powerful thing is going to do amazing things for our customers and of course,
15:46 it's going to benefit Juniper too which is great here.
15:51 Yesterday, we talked about today, we even talked about tomorrow,
15:55 but let's just talk about the day after tomorrow a little bit.
15:57 How about that?
15:58 Is there a moment for networking where networking will cease to be complex?
16:02 Networking will be absolutely simple, so much like air, so much like oxygen.
16:07 Is that future in the next five years, years, what's your crystal ball telling you?
16:12 I think it's in five years.
16:15 It's probably weird for people to hear the CEO of a networking company
16:20 say that he wishes that the network would come out, and go out of the way,
16:24 but that's exactly what we should be wishing for,
16:27 that network literally gets out of the way of what we need to do to drive our business
16:33 and our strategy forward, and I think we're well on our way to making a better reality.
16:37 Thank you for joining us today, Rami.
16:39 Thanks, Manoj. It is my pleasure and I honestly could not be more excited about the future.