Juniper Networks is in the midst of its busiest year ever, and as the Juniper Americas Partner Conference kicked off in Phoenix Tuesday, Juniper's message to partners was a call to arms: invest with us, and we will provide you the air cover, marketing and partner resources you need to double down with Juniper solutions and grow.
"We are at the opportunity of a lifetime," said Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson, who told partners that the challenges of future networks -- and the dominant trends of cloud computing and mobility -- will not be satisfied by status quo solutions.
"The companies who are investing in innovation will be the big winners this decade," he said.
Attendance at this year's Americas Partner Conference, which returned to the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix, is up significantly from last year's event, with about 390 partners attending onsite and 800 who registered for the virtual conference, according to Juniper.
Johnson was one in a parade of Juniper executives who took to the stage Tuesday, each offering some variation or message behind the idea that Juniper will dramatically ramp up its marketing and channel enablement resources for partners.
That ramp-up will come as it continues to push its "new network" agenda and drive market share gains behind major product launches like its QFabric data center fabric and strategic acquisitions like that of Trapeze Networks -- two big events in what's been, for Juniper, a year full of bold moves.
As networking and data center infrastructure shifts from what Johnson called a "vertical, closed" model to a "horizontal, open" one, Juniper will be focused on innovating in the service provider core, the service provider edge, the data center, the enterprise campus and branch and in security, he said. Partners will be equipped to become more focused on software safety and drive business behind Junos and Juniper's software platforms.
In addition, Johnson said, Juniper's R&D investment will be about $1 billion this year, and it will also look to continue to acquire -- perhaps not with the frequency it's displayed as of late, but where it makes sense, he said.
The biggest change in Juniper's overall strategy has been in marketing, executives said.
"We are all in," said Lauren Flaherty, Juniper's executive vice president and chief marketing officer, who said Juniper's market development fund spending increased 20 percent in the past year, and that 40 percent of all MDF spending is now allocated to marketing.
Whereas last year was about charting a course for stronger marketing, Flaherty explained, this year is about mobilization. Juniper's greater exposure -- from an increased media presence to a dramatic pick-up in targeted ad campaigns and a 24-to-26 percent increase in brand awareness across its major geographies -- is what turned the battle for networking dominance into a "three-horse race" with Cisco and HP, she said.
"Juniper moved to the shortlist in the last two years," she said. "[Customers] are looking for an alternative because the value being created by competitors is not sufficient."
Next: Juniper's Marketing And Channel Investment