Juniper Systems might just be one of the biggest companies you’ve never heard of. A US multinational corporation, it manufactures networking products including routers, switches, network management software and security products.
In fact, every link you have clicked on Google in the past 15 years – and every video or advert Google has served you – would not have been possible without Juniper - or Mitch Haynes, for that matter.
That’s how long Juniper has been working with the search-engine giant, whose service is underpinned by its network solutions. Among its roster of cloud providers, clients include Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft.
Haynes has been at Juniper for six-and-a-half years, having worked his way up from Director of Supply Planning Operations. Prior to this, he was Senior Manager of Cisco’s Customer Excellence Program.
Juniper 'supply chains all about partnerships'
He says the key to Juniper’s supply chain is partnerships.
“It’s all about gaining visibility,” he says. “Knowing where and how the customer is deploying is vital for meaningful planning with our manufacturing partners.”
He adds: “Just think what it takes to deliver a global network from raw silicon – the number of steps, partners, and man-years of effort that go into that is pretty significant.”
This is why Haynes says “tight partnerships” are vital for Juniper, if it is to have “the right product for our customers at the right time and the right place”.
But for any business these days, ensuring products end up in the required quantities in a timely fashion is not a-given. Disruption and uncertainty have been constants over the past two years – so how has Haynes kept Juniper’s colossal supply chain ticking over, especially between the teeth of ongoing microprocessor shortages?
He says: “This is probably the most unique time we've seen in the supply chain industry. The simple fact is there is more demand for semiconductor wafer manufacturing than they have the capability to build and ship.
“The ability of vendors like Juniper to get material to market a little bit faster means making decisions earlier than we typically would've wanted to.
“The ability to make such decisions goes back to the idea of close partnerships with customers, which allow you to get ahead of the wave of demand.”
Supply chain disruption means 'means you prioritise'
Haynes adds that it is also a matter of prioritisation.
“Sometimes, it simply comes down to knowing what is a realistic number of things you can build and ship with the components that you have? What's the best way to use them? Where's the best place to deploy them? These are some of the tactical decisions that are most helpful.”
He adds: “In a world where you can’t give customers everything, you need to stay truthful about what you are capable of providing, and this allows us to come up with the best choices we can make.”
A number of businesses that are reliant on chips have decided to reshore chip production, with Samsung US and Tesla among them.
Haynes says that reshoring “is certainly a conversation that we're having with our partner base”.
He adds: “At the moment, when we design an ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit), we partner with a manufacturing company – like Broadcom or GlobalFoundries – who will produce it. It’s a partnership we have with our supply base. In terms of having our own manufacturing footprint, that’s something we are constantly looking at. With so much geopolitical risk today, we need to make sure we have good geographic diversity in terms of where our products are built.”