Juniper Channel Boss: Forcing Partners To Take Sides Sends Wrong Message

"Our first reaction was: the partner event is not about us," said Vitagliano, Juniper's senior vice president of partners, Americas. "We've gotten a lot of comments from our partners saying you really played this one right -- you did the right thing. So what was the logic? Well, it's about the partners. It's not about putting a bunch of partners in the middle and having them have to make a choice. When you do that, it becomes about you."

In an interview with CRN on Monday, the first day of Juniper's J-Partner Summit in Phoenix, Vitagliano offered perhaps his most candid assessment yet of how Juniper's consistent -- not boastful -- competitive style was helping the company to huge gains in channel mindshare.

"I actually welcome partners going to other vendors' events, and them coming to ours, and listening to ours, and comparing our story with what they're hearing in other places," he said. "I actually welcome that. I know partners will sort this out. They have to sort this out. It's their business. All the rhetoric in the world is interesting, but having done this for a long time, [and] I know one thing: partners are going to figure it out."

The 250-or-so Juniper partners attending this week's summit will hear about new marketing and learning programs from Juniper, but most of all, they'll hear the message of consistency that's been a Juniper hallmark for at least the past few years. Juniper isn't a "vendor that rethinks its strategy every 12 minutes," Vitagliano insisted.

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"That's the last thing a partner wants. A vendor saying this is what we're going to do, and then six months later, saying now, this is what we're going to do. The partner says: how do I build my business around that?" Vitagliano said. "What we have is a drumbeat, of things we're doing and things that create a consistent foundation."

Apart from providing Juniper partners better marketing and training resources -- two areas that Juniper executives are expected to play up during Tuesday's keynote sessions at J-Partner Summit -- Vitagliano said he was committed to helping Juniper deepen its relationships with its most loyal partners.

Having recently taken on a new role managing Juniper's fast-growing group of Americas partners, Vitagliano said the goal is to help fewer partners widen their opportunities with Juniper and attack ripe sales markets such as tier-two and tier-three service providers.

"They're service providers, but they're also SMB customers who buy through the channel," Vitagliano explained.

Taking aim at competitors like Cisco without mentioning them by name, Vitagliano said that competitive channels become saturated with partners who "don't really win anything" even if they do win deals because they're offering the same products for the same margins as five or six other VARs in their area.

"We can map our business jointly to come up with win-win situations for partners," he insisted.