Juniper Partners: Now Comes The Tough Part With SDN

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Juniper partners by and large appreciated that Juniper hung back, let the SDN hype mount and then attempted to stake out a more comprehensive position. The company now needs to get its sales programs and training in place to capitalize on that momentum, they told CRN.

"I was impressed with how they laid it out, it fits very well to where we think the SDN market is going anyways. I like how they held out and waited till the other big players announced their strategies, and then they came out way more detailed-oriented," Charles Crawford, director of infrastructure for FishNet Security, an Overland Park, Kan.-based solution provider, said.

Crawford, who joined FishNet in 2012, has been focused on SDN concepts for the last decade and is architecting FishNet's SDN strategy. FishNet's bigger customers are beginning to ask about how it will affect their infrastructure, he said, so the company needed a plan on how to walk them through a potential shift.

"[Customers] hear SDN, and they want to know things like what does that mean versus what I've virtualized already," he said. "So now we can have that conversation, give them a path and say, oh, by the way, here's what we can also do for your firewalls, here's what we can do for your existing gear and here's how we can optimize the investments you've already made."

Specific to Juniper, Crawford also was hoping for more details on Juniper's execution.

"Once we get to a point where [Juniper] can give their bullets and how to accomplish this, we figure out how we connect our services to theirs," he said. "I like the way they're approaching it where they're helping customers get to the vision one step at a time. They need to do some follow up on the details now and quickly get out the model and talk about the products and functionalities. Customer adoption is still pretty slow, but the more we can educate them, the more it'll make for a better transition."

Doug Marschke, chief technology officer for TorreyPoint, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based solution provider, said his company has already invested in an SDN strategy, including training and intellectual property that will help its customers make the transition. Much of Juniper's strategy will line up well with that, he said, but not all.

"It's a little bit different from what they presented, which was a lot about chaining services. A lot of our customers want to use their network to increase value and revenue, so they're looking at ways to do network segmentation," he said. "But [Juniper] does play into some of that, especially the controller aspects and the interface. I'm happy with what I heard."

Marschke agreed Juniper needs to execute behind the strategy quickly, and that TorreyPoint has already begun discussions with Juniper's engineering team. Many of TorreyPoint's customers are already wanting to have those conversations, he said.

"A lot of them are asking about it because they've already heard a Cisco story," he said. "They're saying, 'Is this real? Should I do this?' So we have to play the trusted adviser and educate them."

Juniper can't afford a long lag time between its strategy announcement and its education and enablement of the channel, partners agreed.

"I think it's a work-in-progress, which is fine, but Juniper has typically been pretty slow when it comes to actually implementing what they announce at shows like this," said the chief executive of a well-known Juniper partner, who asked that his name not be used. "Partner Advantage, for example, was announced in January [2012], and it wasn't until summer that a lot of it was nailed down. And the [Partner Advantage Services] program they announced here is something the advisory council has been discussing with them for a long time, so that's been behind too. SDN is so hyped right now, and they don't want to be left behind."

NEXT: Juniper's SDN Partnering And Marketing Approaches

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