Off To A Good Start, Juniper Partners Are Hoping For A Much Less Rocky 2014


Juniper Networks saw its share of ups and downs in 2013.

The company last week, however, ended the year on a high note, reporting fourth-quarter earnings that exceeded analysts' expectations and showed signs of growth in both its enterprise and service provider business. Specifically, Americas service provider revenue was up 6 percent year over year, and Americas enterprise revenue was up 29 percent year over year.

The 12 months prior to last week's financial report weren't smooth sailing, though. Juniper's channel team, for instance, was shaken by a number of high-level executive departures that left more than a few partners worried. Meanwhile, reports of Juniper pursuing a sale of its enterprise business continued to swirl.

But newly appointed CEO Shaygan Kheradpir said Juniper -- thanks to its service provider roots -- is better positioned than ever for growth.

"Our history and DNA is well-suited toward where the world is going," Kheradpir told CRN in an interview at this month's Juniper's Global Partner Conference (GPC).

Kheradpir replaced five-year Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson and officially took the helm of the Sunnyvale, Calif., company Jan. 1. He joined Juniper from Barclays, where he was COO, but also spent 10 years at Verizon, where he was an original member of the management team and ultimately CIO and CTO of telecommunications giant.

Upon Kherdapir's appointment, some Juniper partners questioned whether the company would be placing a bigger bet on its service provider business and potentially shift its focus away from its commercial or enterprise segment.

But, as Kherdapir sees it, those two customer segments are actually much more similar than some partners think. His theory, according to his message at GPC, is that the rise of advanced, hybrid cloud ecosystems and the enterprise's recent push toward services-based IT are blurring the lines between the demands of Juniper's service provider and enterprise customers. In other words, Juniper's two marquee markets are starting to converge.

"The future of every segment of our customers -- enterprises, service providers, cable companies, Web 2.0 companies [that are] small, medium and large -- they all are converging onto the same place," Kheradpir said at GPC.

Kheradpir called this convergence a "grand opportunity for Juniper and its partners," given the company's DNA in the service provider segment and its history of providing carrier-grade networking equipment.

In his interview with CRN, Kheradpir said that this convergence between Juniper's service provider and enterprise customer segments already is starting to show in Juniper sales.

"When I look at [Juniper customers'] buying behaviors from last year, you see carrier equipment that I would have never thought being purchased by enterprises. You had things that we typically think of as being 'enterprise' being bought by carriers," Kheradpir said. "Everybody wants big, tall firewalls that can't go down, and everybody wants a controller and everybody wants automation."

David Helfer, vice president of worldwide channels and commercial at Juniper, said he sees a higher percentage of Juniper's U.S. service provider business being sold through the channel than ever before. Juniper later declined to give a specific percentage of those sales.

Helfer also said that Juniper recently moved John McEntee, senior director of service provider field operations, into the U.S. channel organization to infuse his service provider roots into the team.

"[McEntee's] role is working for [U.S. channel chief] Jon Belcher and to wake up every single day and look after, care for and make sure that all the programs we are coming out with will support those partners," Helfer said. "That partner base is growing and the lines are getting a little bit blurred."

NEXT: The Convergence Effect on Partners' Business