Juniper Networks buys wireless LAN vendor Mist for $405M

Juniper has lagged a bit in SD-WAN, but this acquisition brings wireless benefits to the enterprise. (Getty Images)

Juniper Networks is buying the wireless local area network (WLAN) vendor Mist Systems for $405 million in cash and the assumption of outstanding equity awards. Juniper will combine Mist’s WLAN platform with Juniper’s existing wired LAN, SD-WAN and security systems to provide enterprises with a more complete solution.

Juniper and Mist have already been working together since September 2018 when the two companies announced that Juniper would integrate Mist’s WLAN technology with Juniper’s Contrail SD-WAN software. The combination gives enterprise customers visibility into their wired and wireless networks for both the LAN and the wide area network (WAN).

“The macro picture is that there's a blurring in the enterprise sector between wireline and wireless,” said Lee Doyle, principal analyst with Doyle Research. “This definitely strengthens Juniper's wireless offering. Most of the startup wireless guys have already been bought.”

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Mist’s technology includes artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities, and the company has developed an AI-driven virtual assistant, Marvis, to simplify wireless troubleshooting. In addition, Mist uses patented virtual Bluetooth LE technology in conjunction with Wi-Fi to deliver location-based wireless services to customers. For example, when customers are in retail store, the technology can give them directions to specific products or notify them of products that are on sale.

One prominent customer of Mist is Verizon Enterprise Solutions. In February 2018 the carrier launched a WLAN managed service with Mist technology. The service manages both the corporate Wi-Fi network as well as Bluetooth-enabled devices connected to the network. In addition to Verizon, Mist says its customers include seven of the top 40 retailers, the flagship facility at the US’s largest healthcare system, and one of the world’s largest airlines.

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Mist also has an existing relationship with VMware. The two companies have built a joint product with Mist’s WLAN technology and VMware’s SD-WAN. Juniper did not immediately respond to a question about how its acquisition of Mist would affect the Mist-VMware relationship.

On some of its recent earnings calls, Juniper has been dinged by analysts who have questioned why the company seems to have lagged behind in the great land-rush toward SD-WAN. But this acquisition might make up for some of that. “Mist Systems is a great fit for Juniper and for our enterprise customers,” said Rami Rahim, CEO of Juniper Networks, in a statement.

Cupertino, California-based Mist Systems was founded in 2014, and it has raised $88.4 million to date, according to Crunchbase. The proposed acquisition is expected to close in Juniper Networks’ fiscal second quarter.

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