Juniper Aims To Be More Reseller-Friendly

On Monday, Eddie Minshull, executive vice president of worldwide field operations, unveiled the Enterprise Engagement Initiative to a group of about 400 Juniper partners at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. The initiative consists of better market-coverage alignment and customer-engagement tactics, as well as a new partner-development program that will increase the company’s investment in things like training and marketing.

“I’m the executive sponsor of this because it’s that important,” Minshull said. “Juniper and its partners need to understand the rules of engagement, and we’re putting investments behind those rules.”

Minshull said that as much as Juniper has accomplished with J-Partner, all that is in the past, and the key is moving forward in areas where it can make improvements, specifically in teaming and engagements, spending dollars wisely and not competing with others.

“There’s considerable work we have to do within our own organization to achieve that alignment,” he says. “We’ve done some good work, but now we’re taking it from good to excellent.”

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Juniper also announced on Monday a strategy to address the application-performance issues created by data-center consolidation, server centralization and globally distributed users. And the company introduced version 5.2 of its WX Central Management System -- software for enterprises and managed-service providers that reduces the time and cost of deploying application acceleration services, automates critical provisioning functions and optimizes network resources. Juniper also will roll out a new version of its Unified Access Control solution later this year.

Juniper vice president of Americas channels Bob Bruce played host for the day’s proceedings. He and new vice president of worldwide channels Frank Vitagliano opened the morning with welcoming remarks to partners before moving on to a series of presentations about the company’s various solutions and go-to-market plans.

Partners attending the event say they’ve been pleased with the week’s agenda, and they’re watching closely to see how Juniper will address some of its more pressing needs.

“They have some work to do on their ease of doing business and helping us continue to be profitable,” says Dan Wilson, vice president of partner relations for Accuvant, a solution provider in Denver. “As Juniper gets larger, it increases the possibility of moving more toward a fulfillment model, and we want to make sure that partners like us can keep getting bigger deals. I’m optimistic that our concerns will be met and the right changes will be made.”

Rich Tear, CEO of CSCI, a security systems integrator in San Diego, says he’s hoping that the conference sheds some light on how Juniper plans to bolster its managed-services offerings. One immediate improvement he’s noticed under Vitagliano’s leadership is better communication between top-level executives and the company’s partners.

“Frank continues to reach out to us for our perspective on the systems-integration and managed-services side,” Tear says. “Nothing against Tushar [Kothari], but I think I had one conversation with him the whole time he was there. He was a doer, but we didn’t know much about it because we didn’t talk to him.”

Tear says he expects to see a “ton of stuff” during the next few months about how Juniper intends to expand its managed-services practice.

“They’re already teaching how to be better at providing services, and they’re talking about things such as deploying WAN acceleration as a managed service,” Tear says.

The trick for Juniper will be to balance what partners want to hear with what investors expect from the company’s bottom line.

“They have to demonstrate that they want a loyal distribution channel, but they also want Wall Street to embrace them for the profits they’re generating,” says Don Jackson, executive vice president and owner of Suntel Services, a solution provider in Rochester Hills, Mich. “I think they can do both.”