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After a Forgettable 2014, Juniper Networks Picks Up the Pieces

The past year has been nothing but trouble for Juniper Networks, a maker of routers, switches and security gear.

In addition to intensifying competition from startups like Big Switch Networks, not to mention dominant player Cisco Systems, major customers like Verizon cut spending. Juniper’s revenue fell marginally in 2014, forcing layoffs. Amid all that, CEO Shaygan Kheradpir was booted by the board after less than a year on the job, for what the board called his “conduct in connection with a particular negotiation with a customer.” Just to put a cherry on top, activist hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. threatened a proxy fight unless Juniper engaged in a big share buyback.

Taking over as CEO was Rami Rahim, an 18-year veteran with Juniper who was employee No. 32 at the company. He’s been working to lessen Juniper’s reliance on wireless carriers by focusing on cloud computing providers and cable companies. He also headed off a potential proxy fight by agreeing to add two new members to Juniper’s board.

The Information chatted with Mr. Rahim about dealing with competitive pressures from both above and below and the company’s new strategy. Edited excerpts follow.

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