Juniper Presents Technology, Vision To Top-Level Partners

On Monday, Juniper unveiled a slightly different kind of partner event for what it hopes will be a vastly different kind of partner program, showcasing its technology and vision for about 400 attendees at the posh Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas.

The one-day event is the company's first chance to show its top-level partners what it has been working on so feverishly since the arrival last summer of vice president of worldwide channels Tushar Kothari and his subsequent recruitment of a phalanx of lieutenants.

The company's unique marketing and branding efforts took center stage at the event. Juniper officials took great pride in their offbeat cartoon campaign as something that distinctly differentiates them from their more stodgy and traditional competitors. Onstage were cutouts of a few of the campaign's characters--think Dilbert crossed with the Far Side--and most of the presenters eschewed PowerPoint entirely.

Instead, they completed their individual presentations by displaying layered gold "pavers" on the screen behind them--each detailing Juniper qualities such as "history of success" or "team engagement"--essentially diagramming a yellow brick road that partners should follow to take "the Alternate Route" to success. In addition, the company broke up the morning session with "the J-Show with David Betterman," a send-up of David Letterman's talk show that featured a Top 10 list and group interview of several Juniper executives conducted by a celebrity impersonator.

Sponsored post

Vice president of Americas channels Bob Bruce served as emcee for the day, telling attendees that Juniper's commitment to the enterprise "is the same as we had to service providers in the 1990s." He ceded the stage to a succession of executive speakers, who each highlighted the ways partners can build profitable practices with the company.

Among the main points the presenters hit were the company's go-to-market strategy, as explained by vice president of Americas sales Neal Oristano, who repeatedly stressed the need for resellers to avoid targeting the same geographic or vertical markets to keep from neutralizing each other.

"VARs need to plan their territories carefully and not cluster around one customer or market," he said. "They need to be precise in the way they go after the market."

Vice president of worldwide marketing Christine Heckart delivered one of the day's most memorable presentations by outlining the logic behind Juniper's unorthodox marketing strategy. Because Cisco outspends Juniper's annual marketing budget about 30 minutes into every new year, it was incumbent upon the upstart company to think creatively about its branding.

"The majority of Cisco's $150 million marketing budget is completely ineffective," Heckart said. "This approach is completely different; it leaves behind the status quo and asks you if you're ready to do the same."

Kothari took the stage to assure partners that their profitability is at "the heart" of all Juniper's programs; he implored partners to monitor the company's progress and not be afraid to point out missteps.

"Don't give us good feedback; give us what we need to improve," he said.

Vice president of channels Donna Grothjan, the most recent arrival to the channel executive team, acknowledged that "Juniper and 'ease of doing business' haven't always been synonymous, but we're working on it." To underline that, she pointed to numerous enhancements to the partner site, including better communications capabilities, a partner hotline, 28 new online training modules, three new certifications, promotional seed campaigns around the J-Series and M-Series routers, a J-Partner online marketing agency that helps partners create vertical marketing programs, support for demo equipment programs and a virtual demonstration lab beginning June 1.

Of these, the latter three are being announced this week along with the company's six new service affiliations.

"We have strict requirements for qualifying for these programs, but once you're in we hope to make it as easy to work with us as possible," Grothjan said.

Partners at the show say they're pleased with what Juniper has enabled them to do so far.

"The company seems to have the same goals as its channel partners, and they're rewarding the channel for competency, not size," says Adam Rennert, senior product manager for Qwest Communications.

Others say the rollout of the newest routers and security solutions along with whatever emerges from the pending acquisitions of Peribit Networks and Redline Networks, both announced last week, will enable resellers to expand their footprint in the market.

"We like J-Partner because it has allowed us to leverage our strength in the core out to the edge, and now we'll have the products to sell there," says Phil O'Reilly, president of Solunet, a networking services provider in Melbourne, Fla.

Juniper CEO Scott Kriens closed out the day with a 45-minute, off-the-cuff speech that addressed his vision for the industry and how Juniper and its partners can capitalize on coming trends. He started by spelling out exactly how useful "vision" is.

"Vision is great, but what matters is you have to make money," he said. "We try to focus on what we do best, which is good if you're focusing on the right thing; if you're focusing on the wrong thing, it can be fatal."

"We are creating a deliberate dependence on you—on your brand, your relationships and your success," he said. "If we can make you successful so you can make your customers successful, collectively that strategy is more powerful than the one we're competing against."

"If you see us acting against [your objectives], step in an tell us," he said. "Ultimately, how well we do depends upon how wells all of us do. We can't create a win for Juniper unless it's preceded by a win for you."