Juniper: We're Creating A 'True Challenger Brand'

Instead, Juniper told a room packed with more than 200 partners that it is thankful for their business and partnership and is confident about its future, while reflecting on an 18-month period that saw Juniper enhance and evolve its channel organization, fill holes in its product lineup and tie together its networking and security products through the JUNOS operating system.

"At the end of the day, our success relies on your success," Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson told the crowd during his first J-Partner Summit appearance.

Johnson, who joined Juniper Sept. 8—four days before Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, he was quick to point out—said Juniper is staying the course, continuing its aggressive investment in research and development, eyeing new product sets and areas for the company to grow and working with technology partners to tell its networking story.

"We're not confused about who we are or what we do," Johnson said. "We're a pure-play in high-performance networking that embraces partnerships."

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Johnson said Juniper's recent additions to its product lineup, with the SRX Series Services Gateways, the EX Series line of Ethernet switches, new plans for data center offerings and other launches have helped bulk up Juniper's product portfolio, telling a story of scale and simplicity that has the ability to lower the total cost of ownership by double-digit percentages against competitive solutions.

But Johnson didn't rest on Juniper's laurels. Instead, he said the company is going to forge ahead to continue innovating and working closely with the channel to continue its strategic vision.

"We've got to get up every day and be more innovative and be more thoughtful in how we go to market," he said.

Johnson estimated that by 2012, Juniper will have a chance to crack a $50 billion market. And for every dollar of that, another $2 to $3 is accessible for services offerings, meaning partners will have access to $100 billion to $150 billion in services opportunities in just three years.

Johnson added that the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based networking company is going to step up its efforts in brand awareness, something partners have been hoping for.

"Juniper has to continue to build market awareness," said Jim Steinlage, president of Choice Solutions, an Overland Park, Kan.-based solution provider. "They're still a well-kept secret."

In a bid to build awareness and put marketing to work, Lauren Flaherty, Juniper's chief marketing officer, said Juniper will give partners more marketing air cover and a stronger voice, making it "a true challenger brand." As part of the new marketing efforts, Juniper launched the J-Social eBook for Partners, an online reference guide to social media and networking to give solution providers a sort of Social Media 101 course. The eBook was designed to inform partners how to market themselves through various Web tools, which are inherently low-cost, if not free.

Frank Vitagliano, Juniper's senior vice president of worldwide channels, said he's been hearing from partners that they need more marketing air cover and that Juniper needs to build stronger brand awareness. To that end, Juniper plans to bulk up its marketing investment by roughly 50 percent, he said.

"There's been a whole sea change relative to our focus on marketing," said Vitagliano. "We're figuring out ways to provide the marketing air cover that we've been lacking."

Along with upping its marketing, Juniper will continue its strategic channel offensive, which saw a host of new product certifications and authorizations in 2008 and the launch of three new partner segments: managed services, service provider infrastructure and consultants.

Juniper is also working with IBM Global Financing through distribution to offer J-Partners a line of credit and extending the terms to 60 days, doubling the standard 30-day term. Vitagliano said the extended term is in direct response to partners, who have said "when we close a deal, it's taking longer for us to get paid."

Overall, however, Juniper's Partner Summit was about relating the messages Juniper has given partners for the past five years and to help partners articulate those messages, whether they're around total cost of ownership, price per performance, ease of doing business and Juniper's overall value proposition. Vitagliano also said Juniper will continue its "deliberate dependence" on the channel. Juniper, as its channel continues to grow and its business expands, is painting a consistent message to its partners, Vitagliano said.

And that message of consistency and continued investment in the channel was music to partners' ears.

"I came here wanting to hear that this is a company that is still rock-solid. And Juniper is staying active as opposed to sitting on its laurels," said Luke Wignall, managing partner for Common Knowledge Technology, a Centennial, Colo.-based solution provider.

Wignall said he left the summit feeling confident that Juniper is strong and continuing to grow and that is sees the channel as an integral part of its success, a message he said he heard over and over.

"They really are dedicated to the channel," he said. "Their army may be smaller, but it's far more committed and they're far more evangelistic."

Vitagliano said he hopes partners leave the J-Partner Summit armed with the value proposition Juniper offers end users and partners—that Juniper now offers a complete high-performance networking portfolio tied together with the JUNOS operating system; that it's working to help both the company and its partners find new marketing opportunities; and that Juniper is consistently investing in the channel.

"It's like a golfer—if you get you the swing down and it works, don't change it," Vitagliano said.