Juniper Networks Tuesday announced the appointment of Chris Jones, former vice president of Worldwide Commercial Sales at Juniper, as its new vice president of Americas Partner Sales -- and Juniper partners are already applauding the move.
Jones succeeds channel veteran Frank Vitagliano, who stepped down as Juniper's vice president of Americas Partner Sales in March after seven years in the role. Vitagliano has since taken the channel reigns at Dell, where he acts as vice president of channel sales.
Jones, who has been with Juniper since December 2010, was a key driver behind much of Juniper's enterprise sales strategy in his role as vice president of Worldwide Commercial Sales. In his new role, Jones is responsible for overseeing all of Juniper's partner relationships in the Americas, a task he kicked off last week by leading the Juniper Partner Advisory Council (JPAC) in San Diego, Calif.
Juniper partners are the first to admit that Jones has big shoes to fill, coming in on the heels of a channel icon like Vitagliano. But, they also feel Jones is more than up for the task.
"I worked closely with and knew Frank [Vitagliano] very well. When I first heard he left Juniper, I was taken aback," said Jason Gress, president of InterVision Systems Technologies, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based solution provider. "But I was very excited to hear when [Juniper] promoted Chris [Jones] into that role. I think Chris has a strong understanding of not only the enteprirse and commercial side of sales at Juniper, but is also very committed to working with the channel and driving the channel forward."
Gress, who has been a Juniper partner since 1999 and a member of Juniper's partner advisory council for eight years, said Vitagliano will no doubt be missed, but that Juniper partners only stand to gain from a new Americas channel chief taking the helm.
"I almost think it's a positive to get new leadership and excitement in there," Gress told CRN. "As great a job as Frank [Vitagliano] did, I think Chris [Jones] is even going to do a better job, and I think it will result in a strong 2013 move-forward strategy with the channel."
Brian Jones, vice president of product solutions and alliances at Technica Corporation, a Dulles, Va.-based solution provider, agreed that Chris Jones was an ideal replacement for Vitagliano. He said the new VP has already reached out to him personally to ask his opinion on areas where the Juniper channel organization could improve.
"Any time you are replacing an industry icon like Frank Vitagliano would be a challenge for any company," said Technica's Jones. "But I really feel Juniper nailed this one with the selection of Chris Jones."
In a blog post Tuesday, Chris Jones said his first priority in his new role as vice president of Americas Partner Sales is to ensure a more solid alignment between Juniper's internal sales organization and its channel.
"Our goal is to drive collaboration between the Juniper partner community and the Juniper sales team so that they are mutual stakeholders and find value in making an investment in each other's expertise," Jones said in the blog.
Technica's Jones applauded this strategy.
"[Chris Jones] has been very open in stating that he wants to drive earlier and more coordinated field engagements, and in order to do that, you need to make sure you have enablement programs and that you understand the partners' business," Technica's Jones told CRN. "[Chris Jones] has stated that he is very committed to understanding partners' businesses and making sure that other portions of [Juniper's] organization understand how partners make money."
PUBLISHED APRIL 30, 2013