HPE recently announced that it would be acquiring the networking hardware company Juniper Networks for US$14bn, making it the largest recent acquisition in AI.
The Financial Times reported that one of the reasons for the acquisition was due to HPE's desire to return to large-scale deal-making, in the wake of a sharp decline in merger and acquisition activity in 2023. This comes after a successive line of other high-profile acquisitions in the IT market, notably Cisco’s acquisition of Splunk in September 2023.
A move of this scale signifies a desire of digital businesses to continue upscaling their AI and data centre offerings.
Powering more AI-led capabilities
Businesses worldwide are very keen to invest in AI and get ahead in the ‘digital AI race’ whilst they can. In this vein, HPE and Juniper Networks will be able to combine both of their capabilities, thereby advancing AI and digital transformation efforts.
HPE in particular will be especially keen to advance its AI portfolio via the acquisition. An acquisition such as this will ultimately seek to expand HPE’s market into new areas such as data centre networking, for example.
The company has consistently supported building the compute power that developers of generative AI (Gen AI) have needed, including partnerships with organisations like Taiga Cloud to deliver higher levels of service to meet Gen AI demand.
The deal also aims to push HPE's portfolio towards higher-growth solutions, particularly in the networking sector, aiming to double HPE's networking business. Last year, HPE announced that it was rolling out a cloud computing service designed to power AI systems similar to ChatGPT.
Juniper Networks is bringing to the table a high-performance network and a range of service offerings, including routing, switching, Wi-Fi, network security, AI-enabled enterprise networking operations (AIOps) and software-defined networking (SDN) technologies.
The company already provides solutions for AI data centre networking to optimise data centres for AI and machine learning workloads. Its solutions confront the challenge of increased data demand with high-capacity networking fabrics that aim to deliver the highest AI performance.
AI-native networking to drive edge and cloud innovation
The acquisition aims to supercharge HPE’s edge-to-cloud strategy and lead in an AI-native environment based on a foundational cloud-native architecture. Both companies will be able to provide enterprise customers of all sizes with the ability to manage and simplify their expanding and increasingly complex connectivity needs.
In addition, they expect to create better user and operator experiences with the power of AI and benefit customers’ high-performance networks and cloud data centres as a result.
Through services such as the Mist AI and Cloud platform, Juniper Networks already helps businesses securely and efficiently access mission-critical cloud infrastructure that is at the base of their AI strategies.
Having now been acquired by HPE, the companies will now be able to bring together cloud-native and AI-native management and control to accelerate innovation. They aim to deliver further modernised networking that is optimised for hybrid cloud and AI.
Speaking on the acquisition, HPE President and CEO, Antonio Neri said on LinkedIn: “Today, Hewlett Packard Enterprise announced our agreement to acquire Juniper Networks, which will accelerate our AI-driven innovation and supercharge our edge-to-cloud strategy.
“The acquisition represents an important inflection point and will positively shift the dynamics in the networking market, while also generating significant value for our shareholders.”
The acquisition is expected to close by early 2025.
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