Cisco Systems has purchased dozens of companies in its history so most deals receive relatively little attention. There are exceptions however. When Cisco acquired companies like Scientific-Atlanta (2005), WebEx Communications (2007), and Jabber, Inc. (2008), it signaled a change. Cisco was broadening its strategic focus and viewing the network as a platform rather than a series of boxes. Fast forward to the present and Cisco continues to acquires companies and technologies that build on top of its network platform and customer base. In my humble opinion, Juniper Networks made a similar strategic transition last week when it acquired SMobile, a privately-held software company specializing in smartphone and tablet security.Allow me to explain. Like Cisco in 2005, Juniper always thought of itself as a networking hardware vendor. This changed in late 2009, Juniper announced several products and programs centered around its core operating system JUNOS. The goal? Make JUNOS a development platform for network-based functionality. The SMobile acquisition demonstrates that Juniper is willing to put its money where its mouth is and build the value of JUNOS through acquisitions, not just internal development projects. In announcing the deal, Juniper highlighted its plans to integrate SMobile security with its JUNOS Pulse endpoint software for network connectivity and acceleration. The story gets better. The JUNOS Pulse\/SMobile client will gain added functionality when combined with the other elements of the Juniper platform built into carrier-class networking and high-end security systems. Who is using all of the elements of the platform? Wireless carriers who are already big Juniper customers. Juniper figures that it can help these carriers create lucrative and profitable services built on top of JUNOS. Mobile device network access, security, and high performance seem like a great place to start.Unlike Cisco, Juniper hasn't strayed too far from its comfort zone by acquiring companies focused on consumer electronics or cloud computing applications. Good idea -- Juniper is pretty insular and engineering focused so it needs to proceed slowly and really leverage its technical strengths, installed base, and the JUNOS software development mission. I believe that Juniper does have a great opportunity with JUNOS and I like the company's strategy and the SMobile acquisition. But unless you follow Juniper pretty closely, you probably still think of Juniper as a network hardware company and never even heard of JUNOS. In a similar situation, Cisco would create a flurry of marketing campaigns, events, programs, and business development programs. Juniper isn't Cisco, but it needs to take a page out of the John Chambers playbook to make SMobile, JUNOS, and its overall software strategy a success.