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Juniper acquires IP telephony gear start-up

Juniper will use technology from Kagoor Networks to make it easier for carriers to deploy IP telephony throughout their networks.

Juniper Networks announced on Tuesday that it plans to buy start-up Kagoor Networks for $67.5 million in cash to expand its portfolio of carrier products.

Juniper, a rival of networking giant Cisco Systems, will use technology from Kagoor to sell its communications equipment to telephone companies that plan to use Internet Protocol instead of traditional telephony technology to carry phone calls.

Kagoor's VoiceFlow product falls into a new category of technology known as session border controllers. These devices are expected to become essential pieces of next-generation telecommunications networks as phone companies migrate their voice traffic from traditional systems to new networks that use voice over Internet Protocol software. This migration to IP will allow carriers such as Verizon Communications and SBC Communications to consolidate their networks so that all traffic, whether it's e-mail, Web surfing or voice calls, travel over a single network.

But moving voice traffic to an IP network isn't without problems. For example, firewalls used to protect corporate networks from viruses and worms do not recognize voice-signaling protocols. As a result, firewalls do not allow VoIP traffic to come into a corporate network from an outside network.

VoIP traffic is also problematic for companies that use network address translation, a system that allows companies to conserve IP addresses by using one outward-facing address. That way, every computer in a company doesn't need an individual IP address to receive data. One address gets data into the company's network, where it's routed to the appropriate machine. Such systems generally can't figure out how to route a VoIP call in that way.

Session border control devices, built by Kagoor and other companies, including Acme Packet, Jasomi Networks, Netrake, NexTone Communications and Sonus Networks, eliminate these problems. These devices, which sit in a telephone operator's network, manage the handoff of IP traffic between corporate customers and the service provider so that firewalls and network address translation can be used. They can also be used to handle IP traffic between different service providers.

Kagoor's products have been installed in more than 100 carriers worldwide, most of whom also use Juniper IP routers, according to Juniper. The two companies also have several common strategic partnerships, including Lucent Technologies, Siemens and NEC. Last year, Lucent started reselling Kagoor's products, and Siemens has contributed to the start-up's $40 million in venture capital funding.

Kagoor is headquartered in San Mateo, Calif., not far from Juniper's Sunnyvale headquarters. It has a research and development facility in Israel, which Juniper plans to continue operating.

The acquisition is expected to close by the end of June.

Juniper's last acquisition was announced in February 2004, when it acquired NetScreen Technologies for $4 billion.

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