Juniper Channel Chiefs: Follow Through On Software

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From marketing muscle and product launches to acquisitions and Wall Street appreciation, Juniper has never had the proverbial wind at its back like it does now. That means not only momentum for the company, but an important opportunity for Juniper's channel chiefs to set the right tone with partners and help them capitalize on that momentum.

Which, to hear Juniper's Emilio Umeoka and Frank Vitagliano tell it, is precisely what the challenger networking vendor will spend this year doing.

With opportunities abundant in the Juniper channel in the networking, infrastructure and security arenas, Juniper's ship is steering toward software, and how VARs can capitalize on the explosion of opportunity in cloud computing and mobility using what Juniper's brought to bear for technology.

"Five years ago, we were basically a security partner," said Vitagliano, senior vice president, Americas partners, in an interview with CRN at Juniper's Americas Partner Conference in Phoenix this week. "That's what we really had. But many partners have gone from a security-oriented focus to a network infrastructure focus. The next evolution will really be the software opportunities we have. We won't force that on partners. That'll be predicated on the model the partner has in place. But we will facilitate it. They'll migrate to where they have the opportunity to make money, and that's what it's all about."

In Phoenix, partners had the opportunity to hear that vision from a number of Juniper executives, who spent much of the conference exploring how they plan to motivate Juniper's solution provider base behind it. The Junos platform, and its various flavors, from client-side Junos Pulse to across-the-network Junos Space, can create what Juniper CEO Kevin Johnson described as "the platform effect"-- more applications made attractive to customers, more customers leading to more deployments, more deployments leading to more applications.

That effect, tied in to Juniper's advances in networking and the data center, is a monster partner opportunity, executives said.

Umeoka, who was named senior vice president, worldwide partners earlier this year, extolled the virtues of "innovative partnering" and said he and Juniper's channel team would focus on partner coverage, funding, enablement, marketing, partner rewards, communications and business-to-business interaction.

He will also try to help partners looking to drive more value through services, an area, Umeoka said, where solution providers can make $2.60 for every $1 spent on Juniper networking products.

"A lot of things can happen," Umeoka told CRN in a later interview. "We have new muscle in software, we're building up our communities, we're looking at the right coverage models. For partners, there is no single solution. What are the sweet spots and the areas they can be more competitive -- we're going to show them where the technology's going to be and our investments to make that happen."

It's on Umeoka, Vitagliano and Juniper's channel team to connect those dots for partners: how to drive opportunities in those various technology segments with what Juniper has brought to market, how to leverage Juniper marketing to reach those opportunities, and how to turn profits for themselves as strategic Juniper solution providers.

"We want to be a major strategic vendor that partners are leading with," Vitagliano said. "If you want that to take place, you have to step up and do things that partners are doing and that they want you to do."

Next: Juniper's Tighter Alignment Between Channel, Marketing

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