Juniper’s channel evolution

News Christine Horton Jan 24, 2013

A year ago Juniper Networks committed to invest in its enterprise channel. Where does it stand today?

It’s been twelve months since Juniper Networks (NYSE:JNPR) launched its first formal channel programme, Partner Advantage, and revealed its plans to grow its presence in the enterprise market through increased investment in its indirect sales channel.

The vendor marked the anniversary last week at its Global Partner Conference in Las Vegas, where it revealed plans to take on the burgeoning Software Defined Networking market – a move Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson described as “a natural evolution” for the company.

Juniper also reaffirmed its commitment to the channel, announcing new cloud and services initiatives.  “Our partner community is more important to us than ever. It is critical to Juniper’s success,” Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson told partners in his keynote speech, adding that more than 70 percent of the company’s revenues flow through its channel.

2012 saw Juniper migrate 12,000 partners over to Partner Advantage, which offers new partner segmentation, financial incentives, sales and marketing resources: “We completely re-engineered the partner ecosystem,” said Johnson. “The goal was simple; we wanted to create lasting relationships of real strategic value.”

According to the CEO, the response from the channel has been “really fantastic, whether it’s how we restructured the programme for rebates to help partners drive profitability, or ways in which we’ve made more technical education available, or what we’ve done around Marketing Concierge; we will continue building on that foundation we established a year ago.”

Cloud & Services

The new Partner Advantage Services programme will help partners tap into a $40bn market opportunity, according to Emilio Umeoka senior VP of Worldwide Partners.

“It was designed to enable Juniper’s partners to deliver incremental value to their customers through a range of services, from traditional maintenance and support services to more advanced and professional services.”

The programme incorporates two specialisations: Partner Support Services and Partner Professional Services. Partner Support Services will focus on support and maintenance, making it easier for partners to expand their existing support practices with Juniper offerings. Partner Professional Services will see the vendor offer partners its own professional services assessments, designs and implementation guides, and promote partner professional services capabilities to Juniper customers and its own sales team.

Perhaps in a swipe at Cisco, Steve Pataky, VP of worldwide channel development, said: “Unlike our biggest competitors, we don’t have a services practice we have to fuel and grow. This is where so many of our partners excel – we will now identify their professional service offerings and help ‘Juniperise’ them – being respectful of their capabilities, but leveraging Juniper to make the practice more efficient.”

The Juniper Partner Advantage Cloud programme, meanwhile, will include cloud-specific enablement, marketing, financing and rewards options to help partners build their cloud offerings. One such option will be a Cloud Innovation Fund, which will allow partners to tap into MDF to create Juniper-based cloud solutions.

“We’re not so self-absorbed that we think it’s a Juniper Cloud,” said David Helfer, VP of partners in EMEA. “We’re only one component of a cloud offering; the networking component will never be more than 50 percent of a large cloud offering…We have earmarked funds to help someone build it or work with others to build their cloud solutions.”

The latest initiatives will be welcomed by partners, said Alastair Edwards from channel analysis firm, Canalys. “Some of the announcements from Juniper are much needed, and it’s about time they introduced some of these. It wants to be seen as a credible, serious competitor to Cisco in the channel, and it needs to have these programmes and initiatives in place. I think all of these of these are positive steps.”

2012: A year of transition

While the latest announcements received a positive reaction from the assembled partners, it hasn’t been all plain sailing for the firm over the past twelve months. Like most companies undergoing a major transition, there were some teething problems.

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