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The knock on Juniper Networks has long been one of brand awareness: great products, VARs have said, and great vision, but not a powerhouse of marketing.
Finally, said Juniper VARs and partners at this week's Juniper J-Partner Summit in Phoenix, that's beginning to change.
A number of partners interviewed by CRN said Juniper has finally made good on its promise to give partners "air cover" -- that is, help build the Juniper brand in such a way that partners don't have to spend half their customer meetings introducing Juniper instead of extolling the virtues of its much beloved technologies.
More specifically, the idea of "The New Network" -- the concept around which Juniper rebranded itself last fall -- has taken hold and is giving partners a lot more oomph behind their Juniper sales.
"It's been a phenomenal campaign and brand awareness has increased incrementally," said Jeff Hiebert, CEO of ROI Networks, a San Juan Capistrano, Calif.-based solution provider. "When I first partnered with Juniper, I spent a lot of time educating the customer -- a lot of people knew them with security as NetScreen. But now, people are noticing them. People are giving them a good look now, whereas before they were thought of as a niche player."
Hiebert said the newfound marketing prowess and Juniper's vision of changing the network -- that is, changing the architecture of the data center to a single fabric, with the technologies to support it -- is resonating with partners. Juniper is playing up that message to a broader market already exhausted by HP vs. Cisco noise-making at just the right time.
"This clash of titans makes for interesting media fodder, but customers ultimately don't care. They want innovation," argued Lauren Flaherty, Juniper executive vice president and chief marketing officer, in a discussion with CRN. "They're looking at us uniquely to deliver the new network, and what we have is a very different strategy than Cisco and HP. They're far more diversified; we're more of a pure-play. While they're investing in acquisitions to build their capabilities, we're investing in R&D capability. There are many more parallels between Cisco and HP, beyond just size, than Juniper, Cisco and HP. We're an innovator's innovator, that's our positioning."
Flaherty, who joined Juniper a year ago and has since become one of its most visible personalities, said Juniper's marketing in the past had not been as comprehensive -- as end-result driven -- as it needed to be.
Not only has her team moved to expand the brand visibility through various "New Network" media campaigns, but according to Flaherty, Juniper also invested in its first global tracking study for the effectiveness of those campaigns, the results of which are expected next month.
"If you're not inspecting it, it's a good question mark on whether or not you should be doing it," she said. "This has become a highly operational approach, and I have been able to recruit a team that's incredibly talented, with big domain expertise in this market. We have a focused set of objectives so we're never confused about what we're trying to accomplish."