Big Switch Networks Poaches Juniper Exec To Head Up Worldwide Channels


SDN startup Big Switch Networks has poached yet another Juniper Networks executive to add to its own executive ranks.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Big Switch confirmed to CRN Thursday that Rajeev Gupta, former director of worldwide partner development and investment strategies at Juniper Networks, has joined Big Switch as its first-ever global channel chief. He had been with Juniper for eight years.

Looking ahead, Gupta said he's excited about the opportunity to build Big Switch's channel strategy from the ground up.

[Related: New Big Switch CEO: Channel To Play Key Role In Our 'SDN 2.0' Strategy]

"Opportunities that come along that really can help further and leverage my experience selling to partners, selling through partners, setting up channel programs, setting up channel strategy and driving toward ROI factors that make sense for partners -- they are very rare," Gupta said. "I'm absolutely excited to join [CEO] Douglas [Murray] and the team and to take our partner-centric message worldwide."

Gupta's move comes just five months after Big Switch tapped Murray, also a former Juniper executive, as its new CEO. Murray himself had a five-year run at Juniper, where he most recently served as senior vice president of Juniper's Asia-Pacific, Japan and Greater China business and, before that, as senior vice president and general manager of Juniper's security unit.

According to Murray, hiring Gupta is one of several steps Big Switch will take to build out a global channel footprint. He said the company is in the negotiation phase with a handful of U.S. solution providers today, and that Big Switch in January signed on Synnex as its first U.S. distribution partner.

"We want to be in a position where we can get closer to the channel and really start to more effectively ramp up," Murray said.

That's familiar territory for Gupta, who at Juniper helped drive the networking vendor's partner enablement efforts, along with partner incentive programs such as MDF.

Gupta's departure from Juniper is one of several executive exits the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company has seen in its channel organization over the past year. Most recently, Luanne Tierney, vice president of global partner marketing at Juniper, told CRN she was leaving the company to write a book.

Gupta is joining Big Switch as the company transitions to a new era that Murray calls "SDN 2.0." As part of the shift, Big Switch is focusing less on its traditional network overlay approach to SDN -- something Murray considers "first-generation" SDN technology -- and instead on a new strategy that involves bare metal switches running Big Switch's network orchestration software.

Big Switch's new focus on software coupled with bare metal, or commoditized, networking gear -- a model deployed today by tech giants including Google and Facebook -- will be a big part of the company's message to potential partners, Gupta said.

"Invariably, partners will see increased margins when they get at the forefront of leading technology shifts," he said. "But it's also when they lead technology shifts that offer high efficiencies and features that offer compelling ROI and TCO for their customers."

PUBLISHED APRIL 17, 2014