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Cisco Steals a March

It retakes router market share from rival Juniper.

Cisco (CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report is making up lost ground on the all important core router front, widening its lead over rival Juniper (JNPR) - Get Juniper Networks, Inc. Report.

The San Jose, Calif., networking gearmaker grabbed 59% of total core router sales in the third quarter, up from 55% in the prior quarter. Meanwhile, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Juniper saw its slice of the pie shrink to 32% from 34% over the same period, according to the Dell'Oro Group.

"This has been the trend for Cisco, they have been gaining back share they lost over the past few years to Juniper," says Dell'Oro analyst Shin Umeda.

Core routers are the big Internet traffic management devices that sit at key junction points in the network. Telcos have poured more money into these systems to better handle increasing traffic volumes.

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Cisco was late with its big CRS-1 router two years ago, and that allowed Juniper to cash in on big gear sales and steal business from Cisco. But over time, Cisco's core router gained acceptance and has managed to outpace sales of Juniper's big boxes.

"CRS-1 is the big story here," says Umeda, referring to Cisco's resurgence at the high end of the router market.

Total router sales in the third quarter were $521 million, says Dell'Oro. That puts the industry on track for total sales of $2 billion this year, 11% above last year's $1.8 billion level.

Cisco shares rose 55 cents Thursday to $27.15, and Juniper was up 6 cents to close at $20.