IBM channel veteran Frank Vitagliano is poised to take the top channel job at networking up and comer Juniper, sources said.
IBM announced internally on Tuesday that Vitagliano, its vice president of worldwide distribution channels, was retiring after 33 years with the company. Vitagliano would not comment on his future plans. Juniper also would not comment.
But high ranking channel executives who did not want to be identified said the the highly respected IBM veteran will be taking the top Juniper channel job. "This gives Juniper instant credibility in the channel," said one high ranking channel executive.
Vitagliano is set to replace Tushar Kothari, who is stepping down after two years as Juniper’s worldwide channel chief.
Juniper partners have been speculating for the last several months that there could be channel changes at the company, citing issues in the field with the Juniper direct sales force.
Phil Mogavero, CEO of Data Systems Worldwide, a 1nService company and an elite Juniper partner based in Woodland Hills, Calif. , said he had not heard of Vitagliano's appointment. However, he said Juniper could use some help convincing its direct sales force to work in an equitable fashion with the channel. "Hopefully, Vitagliano can bring his past success to Juniper and create an environment where the field sales force brings value to the resellers," he said. "I am disappointed that regardless of the efforts of the Juniper channel execs to promote certification and value that the field has chosen to treat elite resellers as run of the mill."
Pat Grillo, president and CEO of Atrion Communications Resources (ACR), a 1nService company and Juniper elite partner based in Branchburg, N.J., also said he had not heard about Vitagliano's apointment. Grillo, however, said his Juniper sales are half of what they were two years ago because of problems in engaging with the Juniper direct sales force. "They have great products, but it is hard to work with them and they don't protect us," he said. "They are pushing us to Cisco."
The impending Vitagliano appointment comes with Juniper poised to add more converged networking expertise to its channel. Juniper has also said it intends to increase its focus on managed service providers.
Vitagliano joins a channel effort that has more than 6,500 channel partners worldwide, 1,000 of which have earned Juniper technology certifications. More than 12,000 individuals now hold Juniper certifications.
Jay Tipton, vice president of Technology Specialists, a Fort Wayne, Ind., longtime IBM partner, said he will look at adding Juniper to his line card with Vitagliano joining the company. He said he currently relies on Cisco and Hewlett-Packard for his networking products.
Tipton said he has been pleased with Cisco's responsiveness, but may look to Juniper to replace HP on his networking product list. "This may be a nice opportunity to refresh our networking product line," he said.
John Marks, the CEO of JDM Infrastructure, a Rosemont, Ill., IBM partner, said Vitagliano will draw channel partners to any vendor that hires him. "To me Vitagliano is what a channel executive needs to be," said Marks. "Not only does he back up his words with action, but he has always been accessible to any reseller that wants to engage with IBM. Not only has he been the face to the channel for IBM, but he is a better person than he is a channel executive."
Additional reporting by Larry Hooper and Jennifer Hagendorf Follett