Former VAR Takes 'Dream Job' As Juniper Executive

Philip O'Reilly, former CEO of high-profile solution provider Solunet, has been tapped by Juniper Networks as its new senior vice president of U.S. enterprise sales, a position O'Reilly called his "dream job."

For the last five years, O'Reilly, 53, has run the show at Melbourne, Fla.-based Solunet, an infrastructure solution provider and Juniper Global Partner that focuses on core networking, network security, wireless and VoIP, with about a 55 percent/45 percent split between telecom and enterprise, respectively.

O'Reilly will lead Juniper's U.S. enterprise sales organization, collaborating closely with the executive management team to ensure alignment and drive enterprise sales through Juniper's direct, indirect, federal and distribution channels. He will also oversee development and execution of Juniper's strategic go-to-market plans in the U.S. and capitalize on opportunities in the enterprise.

Philip O'Reilly

But it's O'Reilly's experience with the channel, both as a VAR and as an executive, that introduces a new paradigm to Juniper's enterprise sales division. It's experience O'Reilly said he will use to not only help increase and fuel the velocity of Juniper's channel, but to also act as a liaison to partners as they develop their go-to-market strategies.

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"I understand better than almost anybody the opportunities and challenges," O'Reilly said, later adding that he'll play a pivotal role as Juniper "drives congruence from direct and indirect markets" to promote the value of the channel.

"I can be a bridge in an authentic way," he said.

Solution providers agreed that having someone of O'Reilly's background, with his level of channel expertise will enable him to act as a steward for partners. They are hopeful his experience with Solunet will translate into his new position as O'Reilly looks in from the other side of the fence.

"As far as I am concerned, bringing someone from the field is great and I hope Phil remembers the challenges, frustrations and also all of the positive business that comes with this complicated relationship as integrators that we find ourselves in," said Tom Duffy, president and CEO of Rocky Hill, Conn.-based solution provider Igxglobal Inc.

O'Reilly said initially, he feared blowback from his former channel peers as he crossed the chasm and will now focus on both direct and indirect enterprise sales, but so far, he added, the reception has been warm.

"The response has been 180 degrees the opposite," he said, adding that he's received feedback from Juniper partners that are excited to have a new executive championing for them from the inside. "and#91;Partnersand#93; have an advocate that understands the challenges they have and the business models they're executing."

Duffy said he realizes that O'Reilly now works for Juniper, but hopes that he maintains a strong level of channel advocacy.

"The bottom line is that he answers to the shareholders of Juniper and he will put Juniper's best interests first," he said. "However, at least he will have the opportunity of having the knowledge of what it is like to be on this side when making very important go-to-market decisions."

NEXT: A Little Bit Of Luck

In his new role, O'Reilly will report to John Morris, Juniper's executive vice president of worldwide field operations, who said O'Reilly is the perfect candidate to lead the U.S. enterprise sales organization.

"Phil's enterprise and management expertise will be a great asset to the company, as we continue to deepen the strategic relationships we have with high-performance business and deliver innovation to the market that ensures mutual long-term success," Morris said in a statement.

O'Reilly said he's bent on not just using Juniper's channels for fulfillment, but helping them become providers of solutions, something he said Juniper is now better equipped to do after the January introduction of its EX series line of enterprise Ethernet switches.

"The product set without the EX didn't provide the comprehensive basket the channel needed," he said.

O'Reilly said he's also going to focus on helping Juniper's enterprise side, which has long been overshadowed by its service provider business, excel. Working in both service provider and enterprise markets from his time at Solunet, O'Reilly said, has helped him see the similarities and differences. He said the enterprise will be front and center as Juniper pulls its chair closer to the enterprise table.

"At the end of the day, how many enterprises don't see themselves as a solution provider?" he asked. "Service provider knowledge is critical to the enterprise as well. The difference between the two is it's somewhat different in how you approach the market. But it's not two separate markets in my mind."

With that in mind, O'Reilly said, he wants to translate the similarities in the two separate but equal markets and get that message to the channel, along with Juniper's vision of becoming the leader in high performance networking solutions, not just products.

"We're ready to do that and really have to execute on it," he said, adding that with the EX series Juniper "has the tiger by the tail" and he'll focus on making sure Juniper takes advantage of its snowballing success and acceptance on all fronts while paying strong attention to how the channel can take advantage of that growing success.

"We made it perfectly clear that the channel is important," he said. "Complete, efficient use and inclusion of the channel is the difference between great and moderate success."

As O'Reilly settles into his new position, he said now is an opportune time to join the Juniper team, as it continues to post strong revenues and carve out its niche among the top networking vendors.

"Timing is everything," he said. "This is the time."

Though, O'Reilly will admit, his joining Juniper at this time on the company's 12-year history also involved a bit of luck; luck that Juniper's success in the enterprise is growing, and luck that he was tapped to take on the new position.

"I'd rather be lucky than smart any day," he said.