Juniper Adds New Services, Cloud, MDF Channel Resources

Along with a host of announcements related to its software-defined networking (SDN) strategy, Juniper on Tuesday made a number of updates to its Partner Advantage program, including new incentives specific to cloud, services and distribution.

Partner Advantage was the re-tooled version of Juniper's long-running J-Partner program, first announced at Juniper's Global Partner Conference (GPC) a year ago. At this year's GPC, which kicked off in Las Vegas on Monday, Juniper added several new elements, including Advantage Services, which covers support and professional services capabilities, and Advantage Cloud, which segments and rewards partners' cloud capabilities.

Juniper had a challenging 2012, but solution providers by and large are optimistic that the infrastructure company has sorted out its challenges in areas like data center and security, as well as done a good job making higher-tiered program requirements more stringent. Juniper's top partners, known as Elite Portfolio, have to complete more coursework and meet more dedicated sales and capabilities goals, for example, but are more tightly aligned with Juniper overall.

[Related: Juniper CEO: We're Uniquely Positioned To Be SDN Winner ]

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Those requirement updates, plus the addition of programs like Partner Advantage and Juniper Marketing Concierge, have added more muscle to Juniper's channel enablement, said Emilio Umeoka, senior vice president, worldwide partners and alliances at Juniper, in an interview with CRN. All of those led to some of Juniper's highest-ever satisfaction scores in its annual partner survey this past year.

Juniper plans to add lots more for the channel in 2013, including what CEO Kevin Johnson told partners from the stage Tuesday is the largest MDF allocation for partners in the company's history. The Partner Advantage programs join another major new Juniper program, Software Advantage, also announced Tuesday, which in the coming years will govern how Juniper sells its software platforms through the channel.

As for the specific Partner Advantage updates, Partner Advantage Services will include two specializations, Support Services and Professional Services, which will recognize partners for their specialties in each. Later this year, Juniper also plans to provide "troubleshooting workshops" for maintenance services, including in areas such as service provider routing, enterprise routing, enterprise switching and security. Umeoka described the partner services opportunity as a $40 billion addressable market.

Juniper Advantage Cloud, meanwhile, will offer partners training, marketing, financing and various incentives to sell cloud capabilities specific to Juniper and its strategic partners. According to Umeoka, there will soon be a Juniper Cloud Innovation Fund available to partners, who will be able to tap MDF for help building cloud infrastructure solutions. Cloud services, for the Juniper channel, represent a $100 billion TAM, he said.

A third program covers distribution, Umeoka said, and Juniper met with its top distributors -- including Ingram Micro and Arrow -- Monday to lay out new incentives and MDF for distributors to better equip the Juniper VARs they serve. A number of Juniper's distributors are also announcing new programs this week; Arrow, for example, confirmed plans to bundle Juniper's QFabric data center products with IBM converged infrastructure.

NEXT: Juniper Rationalizes Its Partner Base

Juniper will provide a number of additional new programs and offerings based on partner feedback, Umeoka said. For example, solution providers will now have access to quarterly product road maps from Juniper, as well as a program called Junos Jump Start to help them with solution design using Juniper's Junos platforms.

Juniper is also launching what it calls the Juniper Teaming Standard, in which solution providers will have a more formal escalation approach to Juniper channel executives and also tighter collaboration with Juniper's team on account mapping and resource planning, Juniper's Umeoka said.

The new programs go hand in hand with another recent Juniper priority: the continued rationalizing of its base of roughly 12,000 partners.

"Our strategy is go deeper with fewer," Steve Pataky, vice president, worldwide partner development at Juniper, told CRN. "We want to better enable those top partners such as Elite Portfolio, but not at the expense of our broad channel. We also want our distributors to be part of our broad channel coverage in a more meaningful way."

Juniper will continue to cut underperforming partners, Pataky said.

"We're definitely continuing to weed out the partners not achieving at the compliance level," he said. "If someone wants to sell something with a Juniper logo, we will always make sure we can find the best way to make that happen. But we're also truer to the partners that [strategize] with us."

Umeoka and Pataky said the reason Juniper's partner satisfaction surveys were improved this year was because Juniper was open about its challenges and how they expected things like Juniper's restructuring to affect the channel.

"We were determined to have an open dialogue," Pataky said. "This is a trustful relationship which is why you haven't seen a partner drop-off. They can give us their candid feedback, and the feeling in the [Partner Advisory Councils] this past year was let's get out of this together."