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Juniper recently announced its 'Teaming Standard' initiative, meant to drive greater alignment between its direct sales team and partners. How's that effort going?
I think we are making good progress. When you have big initiatives like this, and especially when it's something you haven't done before, in my personal view, these are things that I would always love to be doing more of, and faster. But I think we're making good progress. We have developed a lot of the modules that are being put in place for our Teaming Standard curriculum, and we are trying to not make this something that we just pile on as an extra to-do for our [field sales] teams, but to make it an embedded part of what they do daily.
I like it call it embedding more partner DNA into the entire ecosystem of our company. The field or sales team is the biggest component of that, but there are also other pieces of this that I am taking on as a personal objective to drive this within other areas of our company. When we do things like new product introductions coming from our business units, we want to make sure we embed the partner aspect sooner rather than later, so it's not just something that's ultimately thrown over to our partners.
Did you notice friction between Juniper's indirect and direct sales teams prior to this initiative?
I guess I would say there was probably some friction in the past, just given the legacy of who we were as a company and growing up from being a service provider-centric company, where we had a very quantifiable set of big accounts that we worked very closely with and still do today. But as you evolve as a company, and [try to reach] what's now, with our product portfolio, literally hundreds of thousands of prospective customers, we have to be deliberately dependent on the channel to be successful. And the only way we can do that is making sure we have that alignment at the field level between our salespeople and our partners.
Where are most of these prospective customers, and what's the opportunity for partners?
We have started to build vertical practices focused on a couple of key industry protocols. Health care is one, public sector/government is another, along with education and financial services. And when I say we are building practices, we are putting people in place to build not only what I call the 'mark-itecture' or the marketing aspects of things, but [to determine] how we embed this all the way through the product development cycle, and how we make sure we are getting close to those customers and their needs. Another key component of this is to work closely with the partners to help them build proficiencies in these areas.
Where do you see partners playing a role in Juniper's push toward the cloud and software-defined networking?
I think there is a lot of interest and a lot of intrigue [around these technologies], and a lot of partners know this is a part of the business they have to be thinking about. How this all ultimately plays out in the marketplace is still in progress. For us, we think we are in an enviable position to not only lead in the industry from this perspective, but also to help our partners make the transition when the time comes.
We are still on track to announce this quarter a Partner Advantage [program] specifically for cloud. This will be an area that we will get into more details about within the next 30 to 45 days ... but it will be a combination of product offerings, pricing strategies, marketing strategies behind that and some sales components. But it's ultimately about helping partners build cloud offerings to deliver what their customers are looking for.