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So, for a software competency: understanding the role of software in solutions and also being able to drive a software agenda in multiple ways, be it as an app developer or integrator. Is that crucial for a Juniper partner now?
I think most of our partners focus in some form or fashion on solutions. That involves not only systems, but also software and services and partners are very familiar with what role those play. There are multiple ways a partner can play in software. Reselling software from Juniper or other partners is one way, or they may decide they want to invest and develop their own portfolio of software offerings that help them further differentiate their solutions. More and more partners are making that choice. It doesn't have to be massive, multi-year R&D projects, it can be small, simple tools and utilities that their service professionals build as part of customer engagement, and gives them a portfolio of software they can add to the mix. I think there's a wide range of choices for partners.
I ask because a lot of partners with traditional hardware backgrounds, who came up selling networking and security gear with you and Cisco and others, are grappling with this idea that they need to become application specialists and understand software's role in their sales a lot more than they used to. Is that not the right way to think about it?
No, and I think even in the legacy approach to networking, even the hardware boxes in the past had software as a certain set of features. As long as partners understand the feature set in what they're trying to enable for customers, I think the form factor is irrelevant. Focus on the customer and design solutions that give them what they need.
At CRN, we had the opportunity in recent months to sit down with both [Cisco CEO] John Chambers and [HP CEO] Leo Apotheker to get a sense of where they want their ships to steer. Despite obvious differences between the two of them, we did hear, in each strategy, this sense of 'do more with us, absorb more of our pie, make yourself a more strategic partner or someone else will.' Any vendor wants a partner to sell more of their stuff and become more strategic, but can you talk about how your message to partners diverges from theirs?
Well, I think the whole concept of the new network is a thought leadership agenda that has impact for our customers, and when I use the word customers I say both Juniper customers and Juniper partners. The technology vendor or supplier has to have a vision for the future and is innovating in ways that are relevant for the customer and differentiated for the customer, I think that's job one. That's what the whole new network approach is all about: creating the thought leadership agenda and something that is compelling and relevant for our customers. If that's there and that's true, partners will want to be a part of that, wrap their value around it and build capabilities and solutions.
There are a lot of legacy vendors and approaches out there, but when it comes to networks, Juniper is an innovator. We're looking to the future and how to solve these problems in unique ways. That's why our message is relevant to customers and solves problems, and that's attracting more partners. And so, it's our job to innovate and tell the story, create the demand and invest and enable our partners.
Next: Juniper's Message Is Getting Out