Cisco, Juniper Grapple for Router Share

Juniper gains ground in the core router market, but Cisco makes inroads with a big box.
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Updated from 10:51 a.m.

Juniper

(JNPR) - Get Report

took a bigger chunk of the core router business in the second quarter, but rival

Cisco

(CSCO) - Get Report

countered the challenger by cashing in on surging demand for its high-capacity gear.

Juniper gained nearly 3 percentage points of market share in the core router segment for the period ending in June, slashing Cisco's take by a corresponding 3 percentage points to 67%, according to a quarter-over-quarter comparison by industry bean counters at the Dell'Oro Group.

While this represents the steepest quarterly market share decline in the past year-and-a-half for Cisco, the San Jose, Calif., computer networking shop scored a big win with its 12800-series high-speed routers, according to Dell'Oro analyst Shin Umeda. Cisco's newest

supersized box, also known as the CRS-1 router, wasn't available for sale until July and so didn't contribute to the second-quarter sales spurt.

Core routers are large network junction boxes used by telcos to help manage the flow of information traffic on the Internet.

The total core router market grew 4% from first-quarter levels, to $555.3 million in the second quarter, as demand for Internet gear continues to be one of the networking sector's few bright spots. But brighter still was the 13% sequential jump in high-end routers, thanks to Juniper's momentum and Cisco's introduction of higher capacity 12800-series routers in December.

Prior to Cisco's 12800 series, Juniper held sway in the category for nearly two years with its T640, more affectionately known as Gibson.

But Cisco has shown renewed interest in the big router field this year. In June, Cisco

agreed to pay $89 million for closely held router maker

Procket

. The move brings a few of Cisco's former brain trust back into the fold, as some of Procket's top engineering talent most certainly knows the way to San Jose. Procket was founded by a former Cisco scientist, Tony Li, and CEO Roland Acra used to run Cisco's telecom business.

The core router market was Juniper's original focus when the venture was launched by a few Cisco defectors in 1996. But since then, the company has expanded into smaller routers that serve businesses. It also branched into network security systems with the acquisition of

NetScreen

earlier this year.

Juniper has also lost a couple top router engineers in recent weeks as Ashok Krishnamurthi and R.K. Anand left the company, presumably to work on a new router upstart, according to trade watchdog

Lightreading.com

.

Juniper rose 11 cents Friday to $21.86 and Cisco slipped 43 cents to $18.67.