Debashis, the VP of silicon at Juniper Networks, was frantically running around his office, and thinking about his next move. In spite of several odds, he had kept the AQ silicon project alive for more than two years and finally delivered it. Now, the product team was expected to use this silicon in a new product. However, his calm demeanor was broken when Jake, the VP of product management, told him that the product planning to use the recently developed AQ silicon was cancelled. This was the first time in Juniper history that an internal developed Silicon was not going to be used in a product. Silicon team was the star within Juniper, after all its founder and CTO, Pradeep Sindu, had Silicon engineering background and kept a close eye on Silicon development. To, Debashis and Pradeep it was not acceptable. After all it took $50 million to develop this silicon and its nonuse would not be good for Silicon team’s morale. They were determined to find product vehicle for this Silicon.
Pradeep being the founder was the most influential person in Juniper. AQ was a smaller form factor of a hugely successful product and was designed for a segment that needed this small form factor. Guided by the success of its predecessor Pradeep was big believer in AQ. When Pradeep received Debashis call, he tried to convince Jake to use it. I was also pulled in as I had worked on AQ for two years and due to my familiarity with Silicon was asked by Debashis, to model use cases to demonstrate the merit of Silicon to Jake and his team. Jake was convinced that the silicon is great but he didn’t believe that his team can create a unique overall hardware and software system to capture the market segment. He believed the market window has gone and without a stellar system Juniper won’t be able to grab market share from competitor. Moreover, Jake believed that only a sale push model might work since Juniper has missed the market window and Juniper sales organization was not good pushing products to customers.
Pradeep then called another business unit (security BU) to use AQ silicon in their product. It was completely different market. I was asked by Debashis to model use cases for this market. This BU was convinced by AQ merits and also believed they can create a stellar hardware and software system for their market. However, since they didn’t have the required engineering resources to build system around AQ, they asked for more budget. This request was turned down. As a result this business unit also said they cannot use AQ. After 2 months of hard try Debashis gave up and for the first time in Juniper, a silicon went unused.
Debashis had no formal power over product design teams of Juniper business units and therefore cannot force them to use this AQ silicon. However, he used his network power and asked Pradeep for help. Pradeep in the position of CTO had no legitimate, reward, or coercive power over product team so therefore he also was not able to force the product...